Ionotropic glutamate receptors, especially the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor subtype, undergo dynamic trafficking between the surface membrane and intracellular organelles. This trafficking activity determines the efficacy and strength of excitatory synapses and is subject to modulation by changing synaptic inputs. Given the possibility that glutamate receptors in the central nervous system might be a sensitive target of anesthetic agents, this study investigated the possible impact of anesthesia on trafficking and subcellular expression of AMPA receptors in adult mouse brain neurons in vivo. We found that anesthesia induced by a systemic injection of pentobarbital did not alter total protein levels of three AMPA receptor subunits (GluR1–3) in cortical neurons. However, an anesthetic dose of pentobarbital reduced GluR1 and GluR3 proteins in the surface pool and elevated these proteins in the intracellular pool of cortical neurons. The similar redistribution of GluR1/3 was observed in mouse striatal neurons. Pentobarbital did not significantly alter GluR2 expression in the two pools. Chloral hydrate at an anesthetic dose also reduced surface GluR1/3 expression and increased intracellular levels of these proteins. The effect of pentobarbital on subcellular distribution of AMPA receptors was reversible. Altered subcellular distribution of GluR1/3 returned to normal levels after the anesthesia subsided. These data indicate that anesthesia induced by pentobarbital and chloral hydrate can alter AMPA receptor trafficking in both cortical and striatal neurons. This alteration is characterized by the concurrent loss and addition of GluR1/3 subunits in the respective surface and intracellular pools. Journal of Neuroscience Research (2011) © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.