Ampakines, positive AMPA receptor modulators, can improve cognitive function in schizophrenia, and enhancement of AMPA receptor-mediated currents by them potentiates the activity of antipsychotics. In vitro studies have revealed that trafficking of AMPA receptors is mediated by specific interactions of a complex network of proteins that also target and anchor them at the postsynaptic density (PSD). The aim of this study was to determine whether there are abnormalities of the molecules associated with trafficking and localization of AMPA receptors at the PSD in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in schizophrenia. We analyzed AMPA receptor expression in DLPFC in schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, and a control group, by examining transcript levels of all four AMPA receptor subunits by in situ hybridization. We found decreased GluR2 subunit expression in all three illnesses, decreased GluR3 in major depression, and decreased GluR4 in schizophrenia. However, autoradiography experiments showed no changes in AMPA receptor binding; thus, we hypothesized that these changes in receptor subunit stoichiometry do not alter binding to the assembled receptor, but rather intracellular processing. In situ hybridization for AMPA-trafficking molecules showed decreased expression of PICK1 and increased expression of stargazin in DLPFC in schizophrenia, both restricted to large cells of cortical layer III. These data suggest that AMPA-mediated glutamatergic neurotransmission is compromised in schizophrenia, particularly at the level of AMPA-related PSD proteins that mediate AMPA receptor trafficking, synaptic surface expression, and intracellular signaling. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.