Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. The ionotropic glutamate receptors are classified into two groups, NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and AMPA (alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate) receptors. The AMPA receptor is a ligand-gated cation channel that mediates the fast component of excitatory postsynaptic currents in the central nervous system. Here we report that AMPA receptors function not only as ion channels but also as cell-surface signal transducers by means of their interaction with the Src-family non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase Lyn. In the cerebellum, Lyn is physically associated with the AMPA receptor and is rapidly activated following stimulation of the receptor. Activation of Lyn is independent of Ca2+ and Na+ influx through AMPA receptors. As a result of activation of Lyn, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway is activated, and the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) messenger RNA is increased in a Lyn-kinase-dependent manner. Thus, AMPA receptors generate intracellular signals from the cell surface to the nucleus through the Lyn-MAPK pathway, which may contribute to synaptic plasticity by regulating the expression of BDNF.