Excitotoxicity describes the process of neuronal injury by excess stimulation of amino acid receptors. This form of insult was first described in the retina, and subsequently has been shown to be an important component of the pathogenesis of ischaemic and traumatic injury in the central nervous system. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that excitotoxicity is involved in several chronic neurological conditions, and anti-excitotoxic treatment has already been approved for some of these conditions. A large-scale trial is currently underway that will determine the efficacy of an anti-excitotoxic drug (memantine) in the management of glaucoma. This review provides an overview of neurotransmission and the mechanisms of excitotoxicity. The evidence for excitotoxicity as a component of certain neurological diseases, including glaucoma, is discussed.