[(125)I]-Epibatidine binds to multiple nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes with high affinity. In this study, [(125)I]-epibatidine was used to label and characterize a novel nAChR subtype found in mouse brain inferior colliculus, interpeduncular nucleus, and olfactory bulb homogenates. Binding of [(125)I]-epibatidine was saturable and apparently monophasic in each brain region (K:(D:)=71+/-12 pM mean+/-s.e.mean across regions) but inhibition of [(125)I]-epibatidine binding (200 pM) by A85380, cytisine and (-)-nicotine was biphasic, indicating the presence of multiple binding sites. The sites with lower agonist affinity comprised 30.0+/-2.2, 58.6+/-0.1 and 48.7+/-3.3% of specific [(125)I]-epibatidine (200 pM) binding in inferior colliculus, interpeduncular nucleus, and olfactory bulb homogenates, respectively. The affinity difference between A85380-sensitive and -resistant binding sites was particularly marked (approximately 1000 fold). Thus A85380 was used to differentiate agonist-sensitive and -resistant sites. The pharmacological profiles of the A85380-resistant sites in each region were assessed with inhibition binding experiments, using 14 agonists and five antagonists. The profiles were indistinguishable across regions, implying that A85380-resistant [(125)I]-epibatidine binding sites in inferior colliculus, interpeduncular nucleus, and olfactory bulb represent a single nAChR subtype. The pharmacological profile of the A85380-resistant sites is very different from that previously reported for high affinity (-)-[(3)H]-nicotine-, [(125)I]-alpha-bungarotoxin-, or [(125)I]-alpha-conotoxin MII-binding sites, suggesting that they represent a novel nAChR population in mouse brain.