Using immunohistochemical techniques a small population of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunoreactive (IR) neurones has been identified in the inferior mesenteric ganglion (IMG) of guinea pig (4.6% of all neurones), ferret (6.4%) and rat (0.4%). A detailed study in the guinea-pig IMG revealed that the vast majority of cholinergic neurones did not express tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-IR, indicating that there were non-catecholaminergic. The cholinergic neurones were significantly larger than the TH-positive neurones. The majority of the ChAT-IR cells (64%) was observed in small clusters which were consistently located in the caudal lobe of the IMG close to the entry of the hypogastric nerves. 83% of the ChAT-IR cells also contained neuropeptide Y (NPY). Since the vast majority of TH-negative cells were ChAT-positive (94%), the TH negativity was taken as an indirect indication for ChAT-IR. NPY-IR, somatostatin (SOM)-IR and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-IR were found in both the TH-IR cells (22, 84 and 1%, respectively) and the putative cholinergic population (95, 84 and 70, respectively). Thus the majority of cholinergic neurones in the IMG were likely to contain NPY, SOM and VIP. TH-IR cells exhibited an extensive innervation of fibres immunoreactive for ChAT, VIP, ENK and NOS. In contrast, only a sparse plexus of ChAT-, ENK-, NOS-, NPY- and SOM-positive fibres was found around the TH-negative cells. VIP-IR fibres did not appear to innervate ChAT neurones.