Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are Na+-permeable ion channels activated by protons and predominantly expressed in the nervous system. ASICs act as pH sensors leading to neuronal excitation. At least eight different ASIC subunits (including ASIC1a, ASIC1b, ASIC2a, ASIC2b, ASIC3, ASIC4, ASIC5) are encoded by five genes (ASIC1-ASIC5). Functional ASICs assembled in the plasma membrane are homo- or heteromeric trimers. ASIC1a-containing trimers are of particular interest as, in addition to sodium ions, they also conduct calcium ions and thus can trigger or regulate multiple cellular processes. ASICs are widely but differentially expressed in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In the mammalian brain, a majority of neurons express at least one ASIC subunit. Several recent reviews have summarized findings of the role of ASICs in the peripheral nervous system, particularly in nociception and proprioception, and the structure-function relationship of ASICs. However, there is little coverage on recent findings regarding the role of ASICs in the brain. Here we review and discuss evidence regarding the roles of ASICs: (i) as postsynaptic receptors activated by protons coreleased with glutamate at glutamatergic synapses; (ii) as modulators of synaptic transmission at glutamatergic synapses and GABAergic synapses; (iii) in synaptic plasticity, memory and learning; (iv) in some pathologies such as epilepsy, mood disorders and Alzheimer's disease.