Immunocytochemical application of the antimuscarinic acetylcholine receptor antibody M35 to pancreas tissue revealed the target areas for the parasympathetic nervous system. Immunoreactivity in the endocrine pancreas was much higher than that in the exocrine part. Moreover, the endocrine cells at the periphery of the islets of Langerhans displayed the highest level of immunoreactivity. Based on these findings in the mantle of the islets, two types of islets have been distinguished: type-I islets with intensely stained mantle cells, and type-II islets with a much lower concentration of these cells. On average, type-I islets were larger (244.8 microns +/- 6.1 SEM) than type-II islets (121.5 microns +/- 3.8 SEM). M35-immunoreactivity was present on the majority of D cells, which were characterized by their immunoreactivity to somatostatin [of 446 D cells 356 (79.8%) were M35-immunopositive]. However, only a small proportion of the intensely stained mantle cells belonged to the D cell population. Therefore, it is concluded that the majority of the intensely stained mantle cells represent glucagon-secreting A and/or pancreatic polypeptide-secreting F cells. The intensity of M35-immunoreactivity at the periphery and central core of the islets paralleled the density of cholinergic innervation, suggesting a positive correlation between the intensity of cholinergic transmission and the number of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors at the target structures. The present study further revealed some striking parallels for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor characteristics between the (endocrine) pancreas and the central nervous system.