Chemical transmitters released from astrocytes, termed gliotransmitters, modulate synaptic transmission and neuronal function. Using astrocyte-specific inducible transgenic mice (dnSNARE mice), we have demonstrated that inhibiting gliotransmission leads to reduced activation of adenosine A1 receptors (A1R) and impaired sleep homeostasis (Halassa et al. (2009) Neuron 61:213–219); Pascual et al. (2005) Science 310:113–116). Additionally, synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) currents are reduced in these astrocyte-specific transgenic animals (Fellin et al. (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:15037–15042). Because of the importance of adenosine and NMDA receptors to sleep processes we asked whether there is a causal linkage between changes in A1R activation and synaptic NMDA receptors. We show that astrocytic dnSNARE expression leads to reduced tyrosine phosphorylation of Src kinase and NR2 subunits concomitant with the decreased surface expression of the NR2 subunits. To test the role of A1R signaling in mediating these actions, we show that incubation of wildtype (WT) slices with an A1R antagonist reduces tyrosine phosphorylation of Src kinase and NR2B, decreases the surface expression of the NR2B subunits and leads to smaller NMDA component of miniature EPSCs. In dnSNARE mice we could rescue WT phenotype by incubation in an A1R agonist: activation of A1 receptor led to increased tyrosine phosphorylation of Src kinase and NR2B subunits as well as increased the surface expression of the NR2B subunit and increased NMDA component of the synaptic mEPSC. These results provide the first demonstration that astrocytes can affect neuronal excitability on a long time scale by regulating the surface expression of NMDA receptors through the activation of specific intracellular signaling pathways. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.