The role of glutamate receptors (GluR) in the signal pathways of the retina is widely recognized. Photoreceptors make synaptic contact with functionally different classes of bipolar cells. The OFF-type bipolar cells mediate light offset-evoked responses and use ionotropic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA)- or kainate-type GluRs, whereas bipolars involved in the ON-pathway use the metabotropic GluR6. This dichotomy predicts a defined expression pattern of AMPA-type GluRs and mGluR6 in bipolar cell classes. This hypothesis was tested by performing immunocytochemical double labeling studies combining GluR-specific antibodies with markers specific for the diverse bipolar cell populations in the rat retina. AMPA-type receptors are composed of combinations of four types of subunits, GluR1–4. GluR1 is expressed by a few somata in the outer part of the inner nuclear layer (INL). Sparse colocalization with any of the bipolar markers used could be established. In contrast, GluR2 is expressed by many of the somata in the outer zone of the INL. At the transcript level, in situ hybridizations demonstrated abundant GluR2 expression over the complete width of the INL. In contrast to our expectations, approximately 70% of the somata labeled by the rod ON-bipolar markers protein kinase C (PKC) or Goα, colocalized with GluR2. Approximately 90% of the OFF-type bipolar cells, identified as recoverin-positive, showed GluR2 immunoreactivity. At least 40% of the somata that were mGluR6-immunoreactive, a both rod and cone ON-type bipolar marker, were GluR2-immunopositive. Ultrastructurally, examples were observed of GluR2 localization in bipolar processes with labeling outside the actual compartment associated with the synaptic complex of the rod terminal. No specific antibody was available against GluR3, but 74% of the PKC-positive cells were GluR2/3-positive. GluR4 did not show a somatic localization making double labeling impossible. On the basis of these results, we conclude that ionotropic GluRs are expressed by rod ON-type bipolar cells (PKC- or Goα-immunoreactive), and by cone ON- and OFF-type bipolars based on a colocalization with nearly all of the present recoverin-positive somata. Our observations show that the functional dichotomy in ON- and OFF-type bipolars is not reflected in a matching expression pattern of ionotropic and metabotropic GluRs. This finding raises the intriguing possibility that the AMPA-type GluRs are, in an as yet unclear manner, involved in the ON signaling pathways of rods and cones. J. Comp. Neurol. 455:172–186, 2003. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.