Ionotropic Receptors (IRs) are a recently characterized family of olfactory receptors in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. IRs are not related to insect Odorant Receptors (ORs), but rather have evolved from ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), a conserved family of synaptic ligand-gated ion channels. Here, we review the expression and function of IRs in Drosophila, highlighting similarities and differences with iGluRs. We also briefly describe the organization of the neuronal circuits in which IRs function, comparing and contrasting them with the sensory pathways expressing ORs. Finally, we summarize the bioinformatic identification and initial characterization of IRs in other species, which imply an evolutionarily conserved role for these receptors in chemosensation in insects and other protostomes.