The neurotransmitter glutamate is inactivated by cellular uptake; mostly catalyzed by the glutamate transporter GLT1 (slc1a2, excitatory amino acid transporter [EAAT2]) subtype which is expressed at high levels in brain astrocytes and at lower levels in neurons. Three coulombs-terminal variants of GLT1 exist (GLT1a, GLT1b and GLT1c). Their cellular distributions are currently being debated (that of GLT1b in particular). Here we have made antibodies to the variants and produced pure preparations of the individual variant proteins. The immunoreactivities of each variant per amount of protein were compared to that of total GLT1 immunoisolated from Wistar rat brains. At eight weeks of age GLT1a, GLT1b and GLT1c represented, respectively 90%+/-1%, 6+/-1% and 1%+/-0.5% (mean+/-SEM) of total hippocampal GLT1. The levels of all three variants were low at birth and increased towards adulthood, but GLT1a increased relatively more than the other two. At postnatal day 14 the levels of GLT1b and GLT1c relative to total GLT1 were, respectively, 1.7+/-0.1 and 2.5+/-0.1 times higher than at eight weeks. In tissue sections, antibodies to GLT1a gave stronger labeling than antibodies to GLT1b, but the distributions of GLT1a and GLT1b were similar in that both were predominantly expressed in astroglia, cell bodies as well as their finest ramifications. GLT1b was not detected in nerve terminals in normal brain tissue. The findings illustrate the need for quantitative measurements and support the notion that the importance of the variants may not be due to the transporter molecules themselves, but rather that their expression represents the activities of different regulatory pathways.