Kainate-type glutamate receptors play critical roles in excitatory synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity in the brain. GluK1 and GluK2 possess fundamentally different capabilities in surface trafficking as well as synaptic targeting in hippocampal CA1 neurons. Here we find that the excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) are significantly increased by the chimeric GluK1(SPGluK2) receptor, in which the signal peptide of GluK1 is replaced with that of GluK2. Coexpression of GluK1 signal peptide completely suppresses the gain in trafficking ability of GluK1(SPGluK2), indicating that the signal peptide represses receptor trafficking in atransmanner. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the signal peptide directly interacts with the amino-terminal domain (ATD) to inhibit the synaptic and surface expression of GluK1. Thus, we have uncovered a trafficking mechanism for kainate receptors and propose that the cleaved signal peptide behaves as a ligand of GluK1, through binding with the ATD, to repress forward trafficking of the receptor.