In order to study the roles of the AMPA and kainate subtypes of non-NMDA glutamate receptors in the processing of persistent nociceptive information, compounds with varying activities at these receptors were examined for effects on the formalin-induced paw-licking behavior in rats. The selective AMPA antagonist, LY300164 and the mixed AMPA/kainate antagonist, NBQX, were compared for their effects on formalin-induced pain behavior. NBQX (3, 10, 20 mg/kg, i.p.), caused antinociception as well as ataxia whereas the selective AMPA antagonist, LY300164 (3,5,10 mg/kg, i.p.), did not cause antinociception at doses that did not produce ataxia. In view of the well documented distribution of kainate receptors on C fibres and of the kainate-preferring iGluR5 subtype on dorsal root ganglia (DRG), we tested a series of three decahydroisoquinolines with different profiles of activity between iGluR5 and AMPA receptors and all without activity on iGluR6, iGluR7 or KA2 subtypes. LY293558 (0.1, 1, 3, 5 mg/kg, i.p.), which had low micromolar affinity for both iGluR5 and 2 caused, like NBQX, both antinociceptive and ataxic effects. However, the selective iGluR5 antagonist LY382884 (5, 10, 30, 100 mg/kg, i.p.), exhibited antinociceptive actions without ataxia while the iGluR2 preferring antagonist LY302679 (5 mg/kg, i.p), caused ataxia but did not produce antinociceptive effects at that dose. These actions were stereoselective since the enantiomeric compounds, LY293559 and LY302680, were ineffective in these tests. The data strongly suggest an involvement of iGluR5 in the processing of nociceptive information.