Taste receptors function as one of the interfaces between internal and external milieus. Taste receptors for sweet and umami (T1R [taste receptor, type 1]), bitter (T2R [taste receptor, type 2]), and salty (ENaC [epithelial sodium channel]) have been discovered in the recent years, but transduction mechanisms of sour taste and ENaC-independent salt taste are still poorly understood. In addition to these five main taste qualities, the taste system detects such noncanonical "tastes" as water, fat, and complex carbohydrates, but their reception mechanisms require further research. Variations in taste receptor genes between and within vertebrate species contribute to individual and species differences in taste-related behaviors. These variations are shaped by evolutionary forces and reflect species adaptations to their chemical environments and feeding ecology. Principles of drug discovery can be applied to taste receptors as targets in order to develop novel taste compounds to satisfy demand in better artificial sweeteners, enhancers of sugar and sodium taste, and blockers of bitterness of food ingredients and oral medications.