Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) plant extract is used as a herbal alternative medicine for the prevention and treatment of various cardiovascular diseases. Recently, it was shown that hawthorn extract preparations caused negative chronotropic effects in a cultured neonatal murine cardiomyocyte assay, independent of beta-adrenergic receptor blockade. The aim of this study was to further characterize the effect of hawthorn extract to decrease the contraction rate of cultured cardiomyocytes. To test the hypothesis that hawthorn is acting via muscarinic receptors, the effect of hawthorn extract on atrial versus ventricular cardiomyocytes in culture was evaluated. As would be expected for activation of muscarinic receptors, hawthorn extract had a greater effect in atrial cells. Atrial and/or ventricular cardiomyocytes were then treated with hawthorn extract in the presence of atropine or himbacine. Changes in the contraction rate of cultured cardiomyocytes revealed that both muscarinic antagonists significantly attenuated the negative chronotropic activity of hawthorn extract. Using quinuclidinyl benzilate, L-[benzylic-4,4'-(3)H] ([(3)H]-QNB) as a radioligand antagonist, the effect of a partially purified hawthorn extract fraction to inhibit muscarinic receptor binding was quantified. Hawthorn extract fraction 3 dose-dependently inhibited [(3)H]-QNB binding to mouse heart membranes. Taken together, these findings suggest that decreased contraction frequency by hawthorn extracts in neonatal murine cardiomyocytes may be mediated via muscarinic receptor activation.