Kainate receptors mediate glutamatergic signaling through both pre- and presynaptic receptors. Here, we studied the expression of the high affinity kainate receptor GluK5 in the mouse retina. Double-immunofluoresence labeling and electron microscopic analysis revealed a presynaptic localization of GluK5 in the outer plexiform layer. Unexpectedly, we found GluK5 almost exclusively localized to the presynaptic ribbon of photoreceptor terminals. Moreover, in GluK5-deficient mutant mice the structural integrity of synaptic ribbons was severely altered pointing to a novel function of GluK5 in organizing synaptic ribbons in the presynaptic terminals of rod photoreceptors.