The pharmacological properties of the alpha-bungarotoxin sensitive alpha 7 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) were studied upon reconstitution in Xenopus oocytes. Channels formed by alpha 7 are about 10-fold more sensitive to nicotine and cytisine than to ACh but are little, if at all, activated by the ganglionic agonist 1,1-dimethyl-4-phenylpiperazinium iodide (DMPP). Tubocurarine (TC) was found to act as a non-competitive inhibitor, whereas dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DH beta E) behaves as a pure competitive inhibitor whose blockade is fast and fully reversible. In addition, the alpha 7 receptor displays a poor sensitivity to methonium salts. The pharmacological properties of the alpha 7 channels are readily distinguishable from those of other identified neuronal nicotinic receptors.