1. The characterization of muscarinic receptors on single cells of the guinea-pig ileum longitudinal smooth muscle, devoid of neuronal elements, was functionally studied by estimating the affinities of muscarinic antagonists on acetylcholine-induced contractions. 2. Atropine (5 x 10(-11) to 5 x 10(-6) M), 4-diphenylacetoxy-N-methyl-piperidine methiodide (4-DAMP, 5 x 10(-8) to 5 x 10(-6) M), cyclohexyl(4-fluoro-phenyl) (3-piperidinopropyl) silanol (pFHHSiD, 5 x 10(-7) to 5 x 10(-5) M) as well as pirenzepine (5 x 10(-7) to 5 x 10(-5) M) competitively antagonized the acetylcholine-dependent contractions with different affinities (atropine > 4-DAMP > pFHHSiD > pirenzepine). 3. Methoctramine (5 x 10(-7) to 5 x 10(-5) M), and AF-DX 116 (5 x 10(-6) and 5 x 10(-5) M) also showed antagonist properties but these deviated from simple competition. These compounds, which discriminate between M2 and M3 receptors, showed a potency lower than that of pirenzepine, the rank order of potencies being pirenzepine > methoctramine > AF-DX 116. When concentrations of AF-DX 116, methoctramine and pirenzepine were increased an unspecific contractile effect occurred. 4. McN-A-343, a partial agonist on intact guinea-pig longitudinal smooth muscle strips, on this preparation induced a weak contraction (about 7% in comparison to control) that was not reversed by antimuscarinic agents. 5. These data indicate that M3 rather than M2 receptor sites are present on this tissue.