Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptors are assembled from the four subunits GluR1, 2, 3, 4 (or GluRA, B, C, D). AMPA channels that do not contain the GluR2 subunit are permeable to calcium. Recent studies indicate that excitotoxic as well as epileptic and ischemic cell damage may be mediated not only by N-methyl-Daspartate receptors, but also by AMPA receptors. The majority of interneurons in the hippocampus are resistant, but subsets of interneurons are consistently damaged in different disease states. Single immunolabeling using antibodies against AMPA receptor subunits, together with double immunolabeling for calcium-binding proteins (parvalbumin, calbindin and calretinin) and the neuropeptide somatostatin, were performed to study GluR1-4 immunoreactivity in interneuronal populations and principal cells. The ultrastructure of GluR1-4 labeled neurons was also examined using electron microscopy. With the exception of calbindin-positive interneurons, GluR2/3 was absent from hippocampal interneurons in both rat and monkey. In the rat, interneurons were more strongly immunoreactive against GluR1 than principal cells. In the monkey, immunoreactivity for GluR4 in interneurons was stronger than for GluR1. All GluR subunits were confined to spines, dendritic membrane and cytoplasm surrounding the nucleus but absent from axons and presynaptic terminals. Our findings suggest that hippocampal principal cells and interneurons express different complements of AMPA receptor subunits. Furthermore, the absence of GluR2 and/or GluR3 in both vulnerable and resistant interneurons subtypes indicates that knowledge of receptor subunit composition is not sufficient to predict neuronal vulnerability.