T cells may encounter glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system, when patrolling the brain and in glutamate-rich peripheral organs. Moreover, glutamate levels increase in the CNS in many pathological conditions in which T cells exert either beneficial or detrimental effects. We discovered that normal human T cells, human T leukemia cells, and mouse anti-myelin basic protein T cells express high levels of glutamate ion channel receptor (ionotropic) of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) subtype 3 (GluR3). The evidence for GluR3 on T cells includes GluR3-specific RT-PCR, Western blot, immunocytochemical staining and flow cytometry. Sequencing showed that the T cell-expressed GluR3 is identical with the brain GluR3. Glutamate (10 nM), in the absence of any additional molecule, triggered T cell function: integrin-mediated T cell adhesion to laminin and fibronectin, a function normally performed by activated T cells only. The effect of glutamate was mimicked by AMPA receptor-agonists and blocked specifically by the selective receptor-antagonists 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) and 6-nitro-7-sulfamoylbenzo[f]quinoxalin-2,3-dione (NBQX), and by relevant anti-integrin mAbs. Glutamate also increased the CXCR4-mediated T cell chemotactic migration toward the key chemokine CXCL12/stromal cell-derived factor-1. GluR3 expression on normal, cancer and autoimmune-associated T cells and the ability of glutamate to directly activate T cell function could be of substantial scientific and clinical importance to normal neuroimmune dialogues and to CNS diseases and injury, and especially to: 1) T cell transmigration to the CNS and patrolling in the brain, 2) T cell-mediated multiple sclerosis, and 3) autoimmune epilepsy, as neurotoxic anti-GluR3 Abs are found and suspected to cause/potentiate seizures and neuropathology in several types of human epilepsies. Thus far, GluR3 was found only on neurons and glia cells; our results reveal a novel peripheral source of this antigenic receptor.