The expression of different muscarinic receptor subtypes was analyzed in immature Schwann cells obtained from sciatic nerve of 2-day neonatal rats. By using RT-PCR analysis, we demonstrated the presence of M1, M2, M3, and M4 receptor subtypes in cultured Schwann cells, with M2 displaying the highest expression levels. Muscarinic subtypes were also quantified by immunoprecipitation and [3H]QNB binding. With this approach, we found the levels of receptor expression to be M2 > M3 > M1. M4 is expressed at very low levels, and M5 receptor was not detectable. Moreover, we also demonstrated that stimulation of the receptors by muscarinic agonists activates previously described signal transduction pathways, leading to a decrease of cAMP and an increase of IP3 levels not associated with an efficient intracellular Ca2+ release. The presence and activity of particular muscarinic receptors in immature Schwann cells suggest that ACh may play an important role in Schwann cell development. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.