GEA 857 [2-(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylethyl 2-amino-3-methylbutanoate], a structural analogue of the 5-HT uptake blocker alaproclate, was tested for its ability to modify tremor and salivation induced by muscarinic agonists (oxotremorine, arecoline) and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (physostigmine, THA) in the male rat. These agents were employed at submaximal doses. GEA 857, similarly to alaproclate (Ogren et al. 1985a & b), produced a dose-dependent, statistically significant (in the 5-20 mg/kg dose range) enhancement of the tremor response induced by all four cholinergic stimulants. However, unlike alaproclate, GEA 857 failed to enhance salivation in a consistent manner. GEA 857 itself did not produce tremor in the absence of the muscarinic agonists or the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. The potentiation of oxotremorine tremor by GEA 857 could be fully blocked by atropine (1 mg/kg intraperitoneally). Unlike alaproclate, GEA 857 failed to affect 5-HT uptake or 5-HT metabolism in the 10-20 mg/kg dose range. However, similarly to the action of alaproclate, the potentiating effect of GEA 857 on muscarinic responses could be explained neither by actions on serotonergic mechanisms nor by actions on muscarinic receptor mechanisms in the striatum. Evidence is presented suggesting that the ability of GEA 857 to enhance responses evoked by muscarinic agonists involves inhibitory properties of GEA 857 at certain membranal Ca(2+)-dependent K+ channels, the blockade of which can potentiate or prolong muscarinic cholinergic actions.