The selectivity of heparin in inducing potentiation of binding of antagonist ligands to muscarinic receptors was investigated at the five known subtypes of muscarinic receptors. The effects of heparin on binding of [3H]N-methylscopolamine at equilibrium was studied in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells which express each of the individual muscarinic receptor subtypes and in membranes prepared from these cells. Heparin markedly increased equilibrium binding of subsaturating concentrations of the ligand only in membranes of CHO cells which express muscarinic M2 receptors. These effects of heparin were qualitatively similar to those obtained in heart membranes. In contrast, heparin did not influence ligand binding to muscarinic M2 receptors in intact cells. The positive cooperative effects of heparin at muscarinic receptors were abolished following treatment of cells with pertussis toxin. The latter treatment by itself resulted in a significant increase in [3H]N-methylscopolamine binding. Taken together with previous reports of heparin-induced uncoupling of receptors and G-proteins, these data suggest that the effects of heparin on ligand binding to muscarinic M2 receptors might be due to disruption of receptor-G-protein interactions which results in enhancement of binding of antagonist ligands to the receptor.