Recent postmortem studies have suggested that changes in the regulation of kainate-sensitive glutamate receptors (kainate receptors) in the hippocampus may play a role in schizophrenia. To explore this possibility further, the distribution of immunoreactivity (IR) for the GluR5,6,7 subunits of the KR was assessed in a cohort consisting of 15 normal controls, 15 schizophrenics, and 9 manic depressives matched for age and postmortem interval (PMI). Cross sections of hippocampus showed abundant GluR5,6,7-IR on apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the stratum radiatum and stratum moleculare. In normal controls, both the numerical and length density of IR dendrites were much higher in sector CA2 than in sectors CA3 or CA1. When data for the individual groups were separately examined, the schizophrenics showed a 30–35% reduction in the density of GluR5,6,7-IR dendrites found in both stratum radiatum and stratum moleculare of sectors CA3 and CA2, as well as proximal and middle portions of CA1. In CA2, the magnitude of this decrease in schizophrenia was 2.5 times larger than that seen in any of the other sectors. For the manic depressive group, no significant differences were observed in any sectors or laminae examined. The potential confounding effects of either age, PMI, or neuroleptic exposure do not explain the reduced density of IR dendrites detected in the schizophrenic group. Taken together, the preferential reduction of GluR5,6,7-IR observed on apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons is consistent with a functional downregulation of the kainate receptor in the hippocampus of schizophrenic brain. Hippocampus 2001;11:482–491. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.