Both acetylcholinergic (ACh) and dopaminergic (DA) systems have been found to be crucial for the maintenance of accurate cognitive performance. In a series of studies examining those aspects of cognitive function revealed by the radial-arm maze, we have found that these two neurotransmitter systems interact in a complex fashion. Choice accuracy deficits in the radial-arm maze can be induced by blockade of either muscarinic- or nicotinic-ACh receptors. The choice accuracy deficit induced by blockade of muscarinic receptors with scopolamine can be reversed by the DA receptor blocker, haloperidol. The specific DA D1 blocker SCH 23390 also has this effect, whereas the specific D2 blocker raclopride does not, implying that it is D1 blockade that is critical for reversing the scopolamine effect. On the other hand, the choice accuracy deficit induced by nicotinic blockade with mecamylamine is potentiated by haloperidol. This effect is also seen with the D2 antagonist raclopride, but not with the D1 antagonist SCH 23390, implying that it is the D2 receptor which is important for the potentiation of the mecamylamine effect. The relevance of the D2 receptor for nicotinic actions on cognitive function is emphasized by the finding that the selective D2 agonist LY 171555 reverses the choice accuracy deficit caused by mecamylamine. Nicotinic and muscarinic blockade are synergistic in the deficit they produce. Antagonist doses subthreshold when given alone produce a pronounced impairment when given together. This latter deficit can be reversed by the D2 agonist LY 171555. These studies have outlined the complex nature of ACh-DA interactions with regard to cognitive function. Possible neural circuits for these interactions are discussed. The effectiveness of these selective DA treatments in reversing cognitive deficits due to ACh underactivation suggests a novel approach to treating cognitive dysfunction in syndromes such as Alzheimer's disease.