Kynurenine (KYN) is an intermediate in the pathway of the metabolism of tryptophan to nicotinic acid. KYN is formed in the mammalian brain (40%) and is taken up from the periphery (60%), indicating that it can be transported across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In the brain, KYN can be converted to two other components of the pathway: the neurotoxic quinolinic acid (QUIN) and the neuroprotective kynurenic acid (KYNA). QUIN is probably the most widely studied metabolite of KYN, because it may cause excitotoxic neuronal cell loss and convulsions by interacting with the Nmethyl- D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor complex, a type of glutamate receptor. KYNA is another metabolite of KYN; its synthesis is catalysed by KYN aminotransferases. This is the only known endogenous NMDA receptor inhibitor, which can act at the glycine site on the receptor complex. Furthermore, KYNA non-competitively inhibits α7 nicotinic acetylcholine presynaptic receptors (nAChRs), inhibiting glutamate release, and regulates the expression of α4β2 nAChR. It is well-known that the activation of excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptors can play a role in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers disease, stroke and epilepsy. Various studies have been made of whether the EAA receptor antagonist KYNA can exert a therapeutic effect in these neurological disorders. It has been established that KYNA has only a very limited ability to cross the BBB. Other KYNA derivatives have been synthesised (e.g. glucosamine-KYNA, 4-chloro-KYNA and 7-chloro-KYNA), which are well transported across the BBB and act on the glutamate receptors. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that probenecid, a known inhibitor of the transport of organic acids (e.g. KYNA), increases the cerebral concentration of KYNA. There is another new perspective to the maintenance of a high level of KYNA in the brain: the use of enzyme inhibitors, which can block the synthesis of the neurotoxic QUIN. These are some of the most promising possibilities as novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, in which the hyperactivation of amino acid receptors could be involved. The presence and importance of KYN derivatives in the periphery are also discussed in the light of recent publications.