The existence of cholinergic neuronal cell bodies in mammalian cerebral cortex was long the subject of much controversy (see ref. 1 for review). Recently, however, a specific cholinergic marker, the acetylcholine synthesizing enzyme, choline acetyltransferase (ChAT, E.C.126.96.36.199), was demonstrated by immunohistochemical methods to be present in bipolar neurones in rat cortex. Here we show that at least 80% of these intrinsic cholinergic neurones also contain immunoreactivity for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), a neuroactive peptide found to be present in a subpopulation of cortical neurones. On the other hand, we find that the ChAT-positive cells in the basal forebrain, which are another major source of cholinergic innervation of the cortex, contain no detectable VIP-immunoreactivity. In addition, we have observed by both light and electron microscopy that some VIP- and some ChAT-positive structures in cortex are closely associated with blood vessels.