Purine and pyrimidine nucleotides are extracellular signaling molecules in the central nervous system (CNS) leaving the intracellular space of various CNS cell types via nonexocytotic mechanisms. In addition, ATP is a neuro-and gliotransmitter released by exocytosis from neurons and neuroglia. These nucleotides activate P2 receptors of the P2X (ligand-gated cationic channels) and P2Y (G protein-coupled receptors) types. In mammalians, seven P2X and eight P2Y receptor subunits occur; three P2X subtypes form homomeric or heteromeric P2X receptors. P2Y subtypes may also hetero-oligomerize with each other as well as with other G protein-coupled receptors. P2X receptors are able to physically associate with various types of ligand-gated ion channels and thereby to interact with them. The P2 receptor homomers or heteromers exhibit specific sensitivities against pharmacological ligands and have preferential functional roles. They may be situated at both presynaptic (nerve terminals) and postsynaptic (somatodendritic) sites of neurons, where they modulate either transmitter release or the postsynaptic sensitivity to neurotransmitters. P2 receptors exist at neuroglia (e.g., astrocytes, oligodendrocytes) and microglia in the CNS. The neuroglial P2 receptors subserve the neuron-glia cross talk especially via their end-feets projecting to neighboring synapses. In addition, glial networks are able to communicate through coordinated oscillations of their intracellular Ca(2+) over considerable distances. P2 receptors are involved in the physiological regulation of CNS functions as well as in its pathophysiological dysregulation. Normal (motivation, reward, embryonic and postnatal development, neuroregeneration) and abnormal regulatory mechanisms (pain, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, epilepsy) are important examples for the significance of P2 receptor-mediated/modulated processes.