Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) are G protein-coupled receptors which are highly conserved across mammalian species. Chick cardiac mAChR, however, have been shown to be pharmacologically, immunologically, and biochemically distinct from m2 mAChR expressed in mammalian heart. We previously reported the isolation and characterization of a novel chicken mAChR, cm4, which is expressed in chick heart and brain. We report here the isolation of an additional chicken mAChR gene whose deduced amino acid sequence is most homologous to the mammalian m2 receptor. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that this chicken m2 gene is also expressed in chick heart and brain. When stably transfected into Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and Y1 adrenal carcinoma cells, the chicken m2 gene expresses a receptor protein which exhibits high affinity binding for the muscarinic antagonist quinuclidinyl benzilate and atropine, as well as the M1-selective antagonist pirenzepine and the M2-selective antagonist AF-DX 116. Therefore, when expressed in two heterologous cell lines, the chick m2 receptor has pharmacological properties that are similar to the chick m4 receptor as well as those reported for endogenous mAChR in chick cardiac cells. Consistent with the properties of the chick m4, as well as mammalian m2 and m4 receptors, the chick m2 receptor was able to functionally couple to both the inhibition of adenylate cyclase and the stimulation of phosphoinositide metabolism when expressed in CHO cells, but only the inhibition of adenylate cyclase when expressed in Y1 cells. We conclude from this study that the embryonic chick heart expresses multiple subtypes of mAChR which are highly conserved with their mammalian counterparts. Furthermore, the high degree of conservation between the mammalian m2 and the chick m2 muscarinic receptors suggests that the pharmacological differences that exist between these receptors are due to a relatively small number of specific amino acid changes rather than larger changes in receptor sequence or structure.