Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate retina. Native glutamate transporters have been well characterized in several retinal neurons, particularly from the salamander retina. We have cloned five distinct glutamate transporters from the salamander retina and examined their localization and functional properties: sEAAT1, sEEAAT2A, sEAAT2B, sEAAT5A and sEAAT5B. sEAAT1 is a homologue of the glutamate transporter EAAT1 (GLAST), sEAAT2A and sEAAT2B are homologues of EAAT2 (GLT-1) and sEAAT5A and sEAAT5B are homologues of the recently cloned human retinal glutamate transporter EAAT5. Localization was determined by immunocytochemical techniques using antibodies directed at portions of the highly divergent carboxy terminal. Glutamate transporters were found in glial, photoreceptor, bipolar, amacrine and ganglion cells. The pharmacology and ionic dependence were determined by two-electrode voltage clamp recordings from Xenopus laevis oocytes which had previously been injected with one of the glutamate transporter mRNAs. Each of the transporters behaved in a manner consistent with a glutamate transporter and there were some distinguishing characteristics which make it possible to link the function in native cells with the behavior of the cloned transporters in this study.