Classical monoaminergic antidepressants show several disadvantages, such as protracted onset of therapeutic action. Conversely, the fast and sustained antidepressant effect of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist ketamine raises vast interest in understanding the role of the glutamate system in mood disorders. Indeed, numerous data support the existence of glutamatergic dysfunction in major depressive disorder (MDD). Drawback to this short-latency therapy is its side effect profile, especially the psychotomimetic action, which seriously hampers the common and widespread clinical use of ketamine. Therefore, there is a substantial need for alternative glutamatergic antidepressants with milder side effects. In this article, we review evidence that implicates NMDARs in the prospective treatment of MDD with focus on rapastinel (formerly known as GLYX-13), a novel synthetic NMDAR modulator with fast antidepressant effect, which acts by enhancing NMDAR function as opposed to blocking it. We summarize and discuss current clinical and animal studies regarding the therapeutic potential of rapastinel not only in MDD but also in other psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive–compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Additionally, we discuss current data concerning the molecular mechanisms underlying the antidepressant effect of rapastinel, highlighting common aspects as well as differences to ketamine. In 2016, rapastinel received the Breakthrough Therapy designation for the treatment of MDD from the US Food and Drug Administration, representing one of the most promising alternative antidepressants under current investigation.