Five muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) subtypes, m1-m5, have been cloned and sequenced to date. The question as to which mAChR subtypes exist in mammalian heart has been studied extensively and is still under considerable debate. We used the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to amplify mRNA from adult rat ventricular myocytes, and found that these cells express mRNA for m1 and m2 mAChRs. Immunocytochemical analysis confirmed that m1 and m2, but not m3, mAChR proteins are present on the surface of these cells. Finally, the functional significance of these receptors was examined. Administration of the m1 mAChR antagonist pirenzepine inhibited the stimulatory effect of the muscarinic agonist carbachol on Ca transients. These findings are consistent with the presence of at least two mAChR subtypes in mammalian heart, m1 and m2, and suggest that activation of m1 mAChRs is involved in the stimulatory effects of muscarinic agonists in mammalian heart.