Metabotropic glutamate receptors represent a fairly recent addition to the family of glutamate receptors. These receptors have the distinguishing feature of being coupled to G-proteins rather than ion channels and they appear to have a variety of functional characteristics. These receptors play a vital role, for example, in the induction and maintenance of long-term potentiation, the most popular current model of the biological correlates of learning and memory. Blockade of metabotropic glutamate receptors prevents long-term potentiation induction and learning in a variety of tasks in different species. Chronic metabotropic glutamate receptor activation is also associated with neurodegeneration and selective neuronal loss when agonists of these receptors are injected in high concentrations directly into the brain. Metabotropic glutamate receptors also play a role in the normal development of the nervous system and these sites within the central nervous system offer possible routes for drug therapies; selective receptor antagonists, for example, may prove to have the very desirable feature of endowing neuroprotection during ischaemic episodes whilst allowing normal excitatory neurotransmission to occur.