Interest in kainate receptors has increased over the past few years. Our understanding of their physiology and pharmacology has improved markedly since their original cloning and expression in the early 1990s. For example, agonist profiles at recombinant kainate receptors have been used to identify and distinguish kainate receptors in neurons. Furthermore, the development of selective antagonists for kainate receptor subtypes has increased our understanding of the functional roles of kainate receptors in neurons and synaptic transmission. In this review we described the activity of agonists and antagonists at kainate receptors and their selectivity profiles at NMDA and non-NMDA receptors.