The studies described demonstrate that rat brain mRNA directs the synthesis of at least four types of functional EAA receptors in the Xenopus oocyte system, whereas in this system NCB-20 cell mRNA directs the synthesis of only the NMDA type of EAA receptor. The NMDA channel expressed in the oocyte, using either rat brain mRNA or NCB-20 cell mRNA, exhibits the pharmacologic properties of the neuronal receptor, including the functional association with the PCP receptor located within the NMDA-gated channel. The demonstration that mRNA isolated from NCB-20 cells lacking functional NMDA-activated channels, but bearing PCP binding sites, can encode functional NMDA-activated channels in the oocyte indicates some defect or regulating step in posttranslational processing or insertion of the receptors into the plasma membrane in the cell of origin. This is the only cell line known to (1) have PCP receptors that appear to be associated with NMDA receptors and (2) provide a homogeneous, self-replicating population of cells that can be manipulated genetically and by changing the extracellular environment. Consequently, the NCB-20 cell line will be useful for the study of the NMDA receptor and its expression.