Incubation of synaptosomal plasma membranes (SPM) with liposomes of phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylinositol (PIN) or phosphatidylglycerol (PGL), led to an increase of acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity at concentrations of 0.1-1 mumol phospholipids per mg SPM protein. The use of higher concentrations (1-7 mumol/mg protein), however, led to a progressive inhibition of the activity with respect to the maximal percentage of enzyme stimulation. To explain the enzyme stimulation by the acidic phospholipids, AchE was solubilized with the detergent Lubrol-PX and showed no change in the enzyme activity at any PS, PIN or PGL concentration used, indicating that these compounds do not act on the protein molecule directly. Arrhenius plots of AchE activities in untreated SPM (control), exhibited a break point at 23 degrees C, which was decreased to 16-17 degrees C in PS-treated SPM. Moreover, the Arrhenius activation energy (Ea) value in PS-treated SPM was increased related to the Ea below the break point in the control. These results indicate that acidic phospholipids do not act on AchE directly, but indirectly, affecting the membrane fluidity probably. Such modifications of interactions between lipid and AchE may control physiological processes in the central nervous system.