Abstract: Muscarinic cholinergic and α1-adrenoceptor-mediated stimulation of phosphoinositide hydrolysis in rat cerebral cortex were compared by measuring carbachol- and noradrenaline-induced accumulation of various intermediates of the phosphoinositide cycle. Unlike carbachol, noradrenaline in the presence of guanosine 5′-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) did not stimulate phospholipase C activity in brain cortical membranes. In cortical slices, the efficacy of noradrenaline to stimulate accumulation of 3H-inositol phosphates and [32P]phosphatidic acid was 2.5 to threefold that of carbachol. However, noradrenaline was less effective than carbachol in stimulating accumulation of [3H]CDP-diacylglycerol and resynthesis of phosphatidylinositol. This was not due to calcium inhibition of CTP:phosphatidate cytidyltransferase or to different lithium requirements for carbachol- and noradrenaline-stimulated accumulation of [3H]CDP-diacylglycerol. The noradrenaline-induced unbalance of the phosphoinositide cycle, which was most apparent at relatively high concentrations of calcium (2.5 mM) in the incubation buffer, was qualitatively reproduced with ionomycin. The use of the α1a-subtype-selective adrenoceptor antagonists WB4101 and 5-methylurapidil revealed a single α1a-like component mediating the effects of noradrenaline. Our results suggest that the primary mechanism for phospholipase C activation by brain α1 adrenoceptors involves an increase in intracellular calcium concentration.