In antigen-challenged guinea pigs there is recruitment of eosinophils into the lungs and to airway nerves, decreased function of inhibitory M2 muscarinic autoreceptors on parasympathetic nerves in the lungs, and airway hyperresponsiveness. A rabbit antibody to guinea pig eosinophil major basic protein was used to determine whether M2 muscarinic receptor dysfunction, and the subsequent hyperresponsiveness, are due to antagonism of the M2 receptor by eosinophil major basic protein. Guinea pigs were sensitized, challenged with ovalbumin and hyperresponsiveness, and M2 receptor function tested 24 h later with the muscarinic agonist pilocarpine. Antigen-challenged guinea pigs were hyperresponsive to electrical stimulation of the vagus nerves compared with controls. Likewise, loss of M2 receptor function was demonstrated since the agonist pilocarpine inhibited vagally-induced bronchoconstriction in control but not challenged animals. Pretreatment with rabbit antibody to guinea pig eosinophil major basic protein prevented hyperresponsiveness, and protected M2 receptor function in the antigen-challenged animals without inhibiting eosinophil accumulation in the lungs or around the nerves. Thus, hyperresponsiveness is a result of inhibition of neuronal M2 muscarinic receptor function by eosinophil major basic protein in antigen-challenged guinea pigs.