L-glutamate is considered the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. Paradoxically, Lglutamate is also the most important excitotoxin pivotally involved in the aetiology of several neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer, Parkinson, amyotropic lateral sclerosis, Huntington and neuropathic pain. L-glutamate signalling is transduced both presynaptically and postsynaptically by metabotropic and ionotropic receptors. Three types of glutamate-gated channels integrate the synaptic signal, namely AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors. Sustained activation of these receptors, and especially of the NMDA receptor, is a casuistic phenomenon that leads to the neuronal death underlying neurodegeneration. Thus, pharmacological intervention at these neuronal receptors and their synaptic protein complexes is a valuable therapeutic strategy. The approval of memantine, a safe, well-tolerated uncompetitive NMDA antagonist for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer dementia validates ionotropic glutamate receptors as key therapeutic targets of neurodegenerative diseases in humans. As a consequence, an enormous effort is being carried out to identify and develop safe and potent antagonists for the clinics. In this review, we will describe progress in this important arena of human health.