The AMPA-preferring receptors (AMPARs) mediate rapid excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system of vertebrates. Expression profiles of 8 AMPAR genes were studied by RT-PCR analyses to elucidate the properties of AMPARs during early zebrafish development. Transcripts of all AMPAR genes are detected at the time of fertilization, suggesting maternal transcriptions of zebrafish AMPAR genes. The amounts of gria1 and gria2 transcripts are several-fold higher than that of gria3 and gria4 between 10 and 72 hpf (hour postfertilization). The edited gria2alpha transcript decreases during gastrulation period, suggesting that zygotic expression of gria2alpha begins around the time of midblastula transition. Relative to the amount of beta-actin, the amounts of AMPAR transcripts increase significantly after the completion of neurulation. The amounts of gria2 transcripts exceed the total amounts of the remaining AMPAR transcripts after 36 hpf, suggesting increases in the representation of low Ca2+ permeable AMPARs during neuronal maturation. Many but not all of the known mammalian protein-protein interaction motifs are preserved in the C-terminal domains (CTD) of zebrafish AMPARs. Before 16 hpf, the embryos express predominantly the alternative splice forms encoding longer CTD. Representations of the short CTD splice forms of gria2 and gria4alpha increase after 24 hpf, when neurulation is nearly completed.