The major excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS, glutamate, can be released exocytotically by neurons and astrocytes. Glutamate released from neurons can affect adjacent astrocytes by changing their intracellular Ca 2+ dynamics and, vice versa, glutamate released from astrocytes can cause a variety of responses in neurons such as: an elevation of [Ca 2+]i, a slow inward current, an increase of excitability, modulation of synaptic transmission, synchronization of synaptic events, or some combination of these. This astrocyte-neuron signaling pathway might be a widespread phenomenon throughout the brain with astrocytes possessing the means to be active participants in many functions of the CNS. Thus, it appears that the vesicular release of glutamate can serve as a common denominator for two of the major cellular components of the CNS, astrocytes and neurons, in brain function. © 2007 The Authors.