The cholinergic agonist, arecoline, was used to examine the effects of cholinergic stimulation upon incorporation of radiolabeled arachidonic acid from blood into cerebral microvessels of awake rats. Animals received a single I.P. injection of arecoline (1 mg/kg) followed 3 to 5 minutes later by a 5 minute intravenous infusion of [1-14C]arachidonic acid (AA) (170 μCi/kg) via the femoral vein. Timed arterial blood samples were collected over 20 minutes following the start of infusion, after which the animal was killed, and the brain was removed. The incorporation coefficient k* for [1-14C] AA was approximately 2-fold higher in microvessels isolated from arecoline-injected than from sham-injected animals. The data demonstrate in an in vivo paradigm, that activation of cholinergic pathways within the rat CNS stimulates arachidonic acid turnover in cerebral microvessels. This suggests a direct involvement of this fatty acid in second messenger function within microvessel endothelial cells and possibly attached pericytes.