G protein-coupled receptors initiate signaling cascades. M(1) muscarinic receptor (M(1)R) activation couples through Galpha(q) to stimulate phospholipase C (PLC), which cleaves phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP(2)). Depletion of PIP(2) closes PIP(2)-requiring Kv7.2/7.3 potassium channels (M current), thereby increasing neuronal excitability. This modulation of M current is relatively slow (6.4 s to reach within 1/e of the steady-state value). To identify the rate-limiting steps, we investigated the kinetics of each step using pairwise optical interactions likely to represent fluorescence resonance energy transfer for M(1)R activation, M(1)R/Gbeta interaction, Galpha(q)/Gbeta separation, Galpha(q)/PLC interaction, and PIP(2) hydrolysis. Electrophysiology was used to monitor channel closure. Time constants for M(1)R activation (<100 ms) and M(1)R/Gbeta interaction (200 ms) are both fast, suggesting that neither of them is rate limiting during muscarinic suppression of M current. Galpha(q)/Gbeta separation and Galpha(q)/PLC interaction have intermediate 1/e times (2.9 and 1.7 s, respectively), and PIP(2) hydrolysis (6.7 s) occurs on the timescale of M current suppression. Overexpression of PLC accelerates the rate of M current suppression threefold (to 2.0 s) to become nearly contemporaneous with Galpha(q)/PLC interaction. Evidently, channel release of PIP(2) and closure are rapid, and the availability of active PLC limits the rate of M current suppression.