The mechanism responsible for the ability of bradykinin to cause calcium-dependent release of glutamate from astrocytes in vitro was investigated. The glutamate transport inhibitor, dihydrokainate, did not block bradykinin-induced glutamate release, and bradykinin did not cause cell swelling. These data exclude the involvement of glutamate transporters or swelling mechanisms as mediating glutamate release in response to bradykinin. α-Latrotoxin (3 nM), a component of black widow spider venom, stimulated calcium-independent glutamate release from astrocytes. Since α-latrotoxin induces vesicle fusion and calcium-independent neuronal neurotransmitter release, our data suggest that astrocytes may release neurotransmitter using a mechanism similar to the neuronal secretory process. © 1995 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.