Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is one of the most abundant and widely distributed neuropeptides in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). An overview of the distribution of the G-protein coupled NPY receptor family (Y1, Y2, Y4, Y5 receptors) in the brain is described. The coexistence of NPY with other neurotransmitters and its wide distribution in several brain areas predict the high importance of NPY as a neuromodulator. Thus, the effect of NPY on the release of several neurotransmitters such as glutamate, gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine (NE), dopamine, somastotatin (SOM), serotonin (5-HT), nitric oxide (NO), growth hormone (GH) and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is reviewed. A neuroprotective role for NPY under physiological conditions and during hyperactivity such as epileptic-seizures has been suggested. We have shown previously that NPY inhibits glutamate release evoked from hippocampal nerve terminals and has a neuroprotective effect in rat organotypic hippocampal cultures exposed to an excitotoxic insult. Moreover, changes in NPY levels have been observed in different pathological conditions such as brain ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases (Huntingtons, Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases). Taken together, these studies suggest that NPY and NPY receptors may represent pharmacological targets in different pathophysiological conditions in the CNS.