The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) can be classified into three families based on amino acid sequence homology, signal transduction mechanisms and pharmacological properties. Generally, class I mGluRs mediate an excitation of neurons while activation of class II and III mGluRs results in a depression of synaptic transmission. In this study we have analyzed the expression pattern of mGluRs in human hippocampus using a panel of polyclonal antibodies specific for mGluR1b, mGluR2/3, mGluR4a, and mGluR5. Immunoreactivity for mGluR1b and mGluR5, i.e., the subtypes representing class I mGluRs, was found in all hippocampal neurons. The mGluR1b antiserum stained perikarya and proximal dendrites, whereas immunoreactivity for mGluR5 was also detectable in the distal dendritic compartments. Immunoreactivity for mGluR2/3, members of class II mGluRs, was present in all principle neurons in the dentate gyrus as well as in the CA4, CA3 and CA2 regions. Pyramidal cells of the CA1 region exhibited only weak labeling for mGluR2/3. Glial cells were also mGluR2/3-immunoreactive. The reaction obtained with an antiserum directed against mGluR4a, a member of class III mGluRs, was confined to the mossy fiber projection field in CA3 stratum lucidum. These data demonstrate differential expression of mGluR variants in the human hippocampus and may provide an important basis for future studies of mGluRs under various neuropathological conditions such as temporal lobe epilepsy, ischemia and neurodegenerative disorders.