Muscarinic cholinergic receptors and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity were studied in postmortem brain tissue from patients with Huntington's disease and matched control subjects. In comparison with controls, reductions in ChAT activity were found in the hippocampus, but not in the temporal cortex in Huntington's disease. Patients with Huntington's disease showed reduced densities of the total number of muscarinic receptors and of M-2 receptors in the hippocampus while the density of M-1 receptors was unaltered. Muscarinic receptor binding was unchanged in the temporal cortex. These results indicate a degeneration in Huntington's disease of the septo-hippocampul cholinergic pathway, but no impairment of the innominato-cortical cholinergic system.