Sodium-dependent, high-affinity choline uptake (HACU) and the density of alpha-bungarotoxin (BuTX) receptor-binding sites were measured in the hippocampus following the intraventricular infusion of ethylcholine aziridinium ion (AF64A), a neurotoxin that competes with choline at high-affinity choline transport sites and may result in the degeneration of cholinergic axons. Eight days after the infusion of AF64A into the lateral ventricles (2.5 nmol/side), HACU was depleted by 60% in the hippocampus of experimental animals in comparison with controls, but the density of BuTX-binding sites was not altered. The administration of 15 mg/ml of choline chloride in the drinking water increased the density of BuTX-binding sites, as previously reported by this laboratory. The administration of AF64A did not prevent the effect of exogenous choline on the density of binding sites, nor did choline treatment alter the effect of AF64A on HACU. These data indicate that the density of BuTX-binding sites in the hippocampus is not altered following a substantial decrease in HACU and presumed degeneration of cholinergic axons. Since the effect of exogenous choline was not prevented by AF64A treatment, the data are interpreted to support the hypothesis that the increase in the density of BuTX-binding sites following dietary choline supplementation is attributable to a direct effect of choline on receptor sites.