Dorsal hippocampal cholinergic modulation of behavior in different tests of anxiety was investigated by direct injection of the muscarinic M1 and M2 receptor antagonists, pirenzepine and gallamine, and the nicotinic receptor antagonist mecamylamine. In the social interaction test, the anxiogenic effect of pirenzepine (30-100 ng) provided evidence for a tonic cholinergic anxiolytic action mediated by postsynaptic M1 receptors. The anxiogenic action of mecamylamine (30 and 100 ng) was most likely mediated by its action of presynaptic nicotinic receptors to reduce acetylcholine release. Gallamine (10-1,000 ng) was without effect, suggesting that M2 receptors in this brain region do not play a significant role in this behavioral test. On Trial 1 in the elevated plus-maze, the receptor antagonists were without any effect, but in those with a previous 5-min experience of the plus-maze pirenzepine and mecamylamine had anxiogenic effects in the dose range of 30-300 ng; gallamine (100 and 300 ng) was without significant effect.