Neuromuscular transmission between the cardiac ganglion (CG) and the myocardium was examined in the adult heart of the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. Intracellular injection of neurobiotin into the CG neurones revealed that all six CG neurones send their axons onto the cardiac muscle, where they form axon terminals bearing varicosities. All the CG neurones and their processes exhibited glutamate-like immunoreactivity. The cardiac muscle showed depolarizing membrane potential responses to glutamate applied focally to sites close to axon terminals bearing varicosities. Both the glutamate-induced response and the excitatory junctional potential (EJP) showed desensitization in response to the repeated application of glutamate. Under voltage-clamp conditions, the cardiac muscle produced inward current responses to focally applied glutamate. The reversal potential for the glutamate-induced current estimated from extrapolation of the linear current/voltage relationship was similar to that of the excitatory junctional current evoked by ganglionic nerve stimulation. Both the glutamate-induced response and the EJP were blocked by a glutamate-specific antagonist, Joro spider toxin. These results led us to conclude that the CG neurones of Ligia exotica are glutamatergic motoneurones.