We have utilized subtype specific antibodies to determine the cellular and subcellular distributions of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes that are highly expressed in the rat striatum (m1-m4). Each receptor is expressed in distinct populations of striatal neurons in the relative proportions predicted by their mRNAs. They concentrate at post-synaptic sites and each of the four subtypes are also transported to pre-synaptic sites. m2 appears to be the only presynaptic autoreceptor in the striatum, but it is also localized in non-cholinergic terminals. These distinct pre- and post-synaptic localizations suggest that muscarinic receptor subtype diversity evolved to enable increasingly complex responses to acetylcholine release.