Receptor binding studies have demonstrated the presence of an [3H]MK-801 ([3H](+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo[a,d]cyclohepten-5,10-im ine maleate) binding site in human keratinocytes. The affinity found in keratinocytes was lower than that found in brain membranes. Northern blots identified mRNA in human keratinocytes and rat cardiocytes, as well as rat brain, that hybridized with high stringency to a probe for NMDAR1, an NMDA receptor subunit. In each tissue, mRNA that hybridized to another glutamate binding protein that might be part of an NMDA receptor complex, was also present. The presence of NMDA or NMDA-like receptors in keratinocytes and rat cardiocytes together with the low affinity [3H]MK-801 binding suggests that this protein may be a general channel forming protein that is present in many tissues, and forms specific receptors by interacting with additional subunits.