Interneurons immunoreactive for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) are integral elements of columnar organization patterns in the rat cerebral cortex. By application of the sensitive mirror technique, the co-localization of VIP with the classical inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the acetylcholine-synthesizing enzyme, choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), was investigated in neocortical neurons. Furthermore, the frequency of co-localization of ChAT with GABA was determined. In a sample of 118 VIP-immunoreactive neurons, mostly from the primary somatosensory cortex, it was demonstrated that virtually all of them reveal immunoreactivity for GABA and, therefore, are to be GABAergic. Moreover, 34% of mostly bipolar, VIP-positive neurons contained ChAT and are, thus, supposedly cholinergic as well. Co-localization of VIP and ChAT varied according to cortical laminae. Finally, 88% of a total of 60 ChAT-immunoreactive neurons were also immunostained for GABA. It is concluded that almost all VIP-immunoreactive neurons and most of the cholinergic neurons in rat neocortex represent partly overlapping subpopulations of inhibitory interneurons utilizing GABA.