The striatum receives the majority of excitatory amino acidergic input to the basal ganglia from neocortical and allocortical sources. The subthalamic nucleus and the substantia nigra also receive excitatory amino acidergic inputs from neocortex. The subthalamic nucleus, which has prominent projections to the pallidum and nigra, is the only known intrinsic excitatory amino acidergic component of the basal ganglia. Possible excitatory amino acidergic inputs reach the basal ganglia from the intralaminar thalamic nuclei and the pedunculo-pontine nucleus. The striatum is richly endowed with all subtypes of excitatory amino acid receptors and these appear to be inhomogeneously distributed within the striatal complex. The non-striatal nuclei contain lesser levels of excitatory amino acid receptors and the relative proportion of these receptors varies between nuclei. The presence of high densities of excitatory amino acid receptors is a phylogenetically conserved feature of the striatum and its non-mammalian homologues. In Huntington's disease, there is substantial depletion ofα-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid, N-methyl-D-aspartate, and kainate receptors within the striatum. In Parkinson's disease substantia nigra, there is significant loss of N-methyl-D-aspartate andα-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid receptors.