Complementary DNA (cDNA) encoding human beta-amyloid precursor protein familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) Swedish mutant (beta APPSM) form was cloned into a mammalian expression vector (PK255) containing the CMV promoter. The vector was transfected into Chinese hamster ovary cells containing human muscarinic m1 receptors (CHO-m1), and clonal cells stably expressing beta APPSM were isolated. The effects of m1-receptor activation by the selective m1 agonist xanomeline and the non-selective muscarinic agonist carbachol on processing of beta APPSM to release soluble APP (APPs) and beta-amyloid peptide (A beta) were compared. Xanomeline stimulated APP release with a potency 1000-fold greater than that observed for carbachol. Concentrations of carbachol and xanomeline producing maximal effects on APPs release reduced the secretion of A beta by 28 and 46%, respectively. These results extend previous studies with xanomeline and suggest that cholinergic replacement therapy for Alzheimer's disease may reduce amyloid deposition.