Muscarinic receptors mediate diverse effects on the vasculature. Recently, a consensus has been arrived at with regard to muscarinic receptor classification (Levine & Birdsall, 1989). As a result, it may now be possible to clarify the role of each subtype in the responses of vascular tissues to muscarinic agonists. It is apparent that vascular muscarinic receptors form a heterogeneous population. M1 receptors contract canine venous tissue, whilst M3 receptors contract porcine and bovine coronary arteries. M3 receptors also mediate EDRF-dependent relaxant responses in the majority of tissues studied to date. M2 receptors elicit relaxations by a decrease in sympathetic outflow in canine femoral vein, rabbit ear artery and rat portal vein. These conclusions are primarily derived from functional estimations of equilibrium dissociation constants, since comparable radioligand binding data are both scarce and contradictory. It is concluded that all three major subtypes of receptors are present in the vasculature. However, the limited selectivity of the available antagonists, the lack of extensive use of such compounds and the unavailability of selective agonists clearly indicate the need for more definitive studies to be undertaken.