The effects of NBQX (1.56-7.5 mg/kg, i.p.), a competitive antagonist at the AMPA type of glutamate receptor, were studied in two operant behavioural paradigms, differential reinforcement of low response rates (DRL), and delayed matching to position (DMTP), which have been shown to be sensitive to the antagonists of the NMDA type of glutamate receptor. Additionally, the non-competitive AMPA antagonist, GYKI 52466 (7.5-15 mg/kg, i.p.), was studied in the DRL procedure. As a positive control, the non-competitive NMDA antagonist, MK 801 (0.0125-0.1 mg/kg, i.p.) was studied in both procedures. During performance of the DRL schedule, MK 801 increased response rates in a dose dependent manner, and decreased the number of reinforcers obtained. The increase in response rates could be attributed to both a shift in the median inter-response time (IRT) to shorter intervals, and to a marked, dose dependent increase in the occurrence of bursts of responses (responses occurring within 3 s of a previous response). In contrast, NBQX and GYKI 52466 both decreased response rates in a dose dependent fashion, and did not shift the distribution of the IRTs, or increase the occurrence of burst responding. In the DMTP procedure, accuracy of matching decreased with increasing delay (up to 30 s, between presentation of sample and opportunity to respond). NBQX disrupted responding at a dose of 7.5 mg/kg, but lower doses were ineffective in influencing accuracy of performance of the discrimination. In contrast, MK 801 (0.1 and 0.2 mg/kg) reduced accuracy of matching at all delays, while tending to increase the speed of responding. These data demonstrate differences in the effects of AMPA and NMDA antagonists on performance of well trained operant behaviour.