The effects of glutamate metabotropic receptors (mGluRs) on excitatory transmission in the nucleus accumbens were investigated using electrophysiological techniques in rat nucleus accumbens slices. The broad-spectrum mGluR agonist (1S,3R)-1-aminocyclopentyl-1,3-dicarboxylate, the mGluR group 2 selective agonists (S)-4-carboxy-3-hydroxyphenylglycine, (1S,3S)-ACPD) and (2S,1′S,2′S)-2-(2′-carboxycyclopropyl)glycine (L-CCG1), and the mGluR group 3 specific agonist L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (L-AP4) all reversibly inhibited evoked excitatory synaptic responses. The specific group 1 mGluR agonist (R,S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine [(R,S)-DHPG] did not depress transmission. Dose-response curves showed that the rank order of agonist potencies was: L-CCGI > L-AP4 > (1 S,3S)-ACPD. Group 2 and 3 mGluRs inhibited transmission via a presynaptic mechanism, as they increased paired-pulse facilitation, decreased the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents and had no effect on their amplitude. The mGluRs did not inhibit transmitter release by reducing voltage-dependent Ca2+ currents through N- or P-type Ca2+ channels, as inhibition persisted in the presence of a-conotoxin-GVIA or Aga-IVA. The depression induced by mGluRs was not affected by specific antagonists of dopamine D1, GABA-B or adenosine A1 receptors, indicating direct effects. Finally, (13,s)-DHPG specifically blocked the postsynaptic afterhyperpolarization current (Iahp). Our results represent the first direct demonstration of functional mGluRs in the nucleus accumbens of the rat.