Recently, knowledge about the role of astrocytes in the brain has increased substantially. As a result we have had to rethink old views regarding how the brain works at the cellular level. Neurons can no longer be regarded as the only cell types of functional significance. The picture instead appears to be far more complex, with an ongoing exchange of information between different cell types, and this interaction is suggested to be particularly important between neurons and astrocytes. Astrocytes express receptors for different classes of neurotransmitters, and have both voltage and receptor operated ion channels. Through active uptake and release of ions, neurotransmitters and water they control the brain interstitium. Intercellular communication via transfer of neuroactive substances through gap junctions makes it possible to coordinate different activities in large areas of the brain. Dysfunction of astrocytic physiology is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis and progress of various neurological disorders such as epilepsy, stroke and cerebral edema.