Choline uptake by the high affinity choline transporter (CHT) is the rate-limiting step in acetylcholine synthesis. Induction of CHT is therefore a critical step in cholinergic differentiation, and we examined the developmental expression of CHT in cholinergic sympathetic neurons that innervate rodent sweat glands. During postnatal development the earliest sympathetic axons in the rear footpads are noradrenergic, containing intense tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and lacking CHT-immunoreactivity (CHT-IR). By postnatal day 7 (P7) in mouse, and P10 in rat, weak CHT-IR appeared in axons associated with the sweat gland anlagen. CHT staining intensity increased during the following weeks in conjunction with plexus arborization and gland maturation. The pattern of CHT-immunoreactivity (CHT-IR) in the sweat gland innervation was similar to staining for the vesicular acetylcholine transporter and vasoactive intestinal peptide. Immunoblots of tissue from sympathectomized rats confirmed that most of the CHT in footpad was contained in sympathetic neurons. Although CHT expression has been reported in noradrenergic sympathetic neurons of the superior cervical ganglion, these data indicate that in the sympathetic neurons projecting to sweat glands CHT is present at detectable levels only after association with the glands.