We have examined the effects of a range of opioid receptor subtype selective agonists on K+ evoked glutamate release from perfused rat cerebrocortical slices. Dual application (S1 and S2) of K+ (46 mM) evoked dual monophasic glutamate release profiles. When areas under the release curves were calculated an S2/S1 ratio for control slices of 1.07 +/- 0.08 (n = 75) was obtained, this was reduced by 80% with EGTA (0.1 mM) treatment confirming the presence of a Ca2+ regulated release process, Morphine produced a dose-dependent inhibition of the S2/S1 ratio. At 1 microM this amounted to 78 +/- 12% (mean +/- SEM; n = 6). (D-Ala2,MePhe4,gly(ol)5)enkephalin (DAMGO; 60 +/- 12%, n = 6 at 1 microM), and spiradoline (53 +/- 14% at 1 and 71 +/- 11% at 100 microM, both n = 6) also inhibited glutamate release in a cyprodime (10 microM) and norbinaltorphimine (10 microM) reversible manner. (D-Pen2.5) enkephalin (DPDPE; 1 microM) was ineffective. All agents tested did not affect basal glutamate release. Collectively these data implicate a role for mu and kappa opioids in the control of evoked glutamate release and their potential for neuroprotective therapy.