Muscarinic cholinergic receptors modulate dopaminergic function in brain pathways thought to mediate cocaine's abuse-related effects. Here, we sought to confirm and extend in the mouse species findings that nonselective muscarinic receptor antagonists can enhance cocaine's discriminative stimulus. More importantly, we tested the hypothesis that muscarinic receptor agonists with varied receptor subtype selectivity can blunt cocaine's discriminative stimulus and reinforcing effects; we hypothesized a critical role for the M(1) and/or M(4) receptor subtypes in this modulation. Mice were trained to discriminate cocaine from saline, or to self-administer intravenous cocaine chronically. The nonselective muscarinic antagonists scopolamine and methylscopolamine, the nonselective muscarinic agonists oxotremorine and pilocarpine, the M(1)/M(4)-preferring agonist xanomeline, the putative M(1)-selective agonist (4-hydroxy-2-butynyl)-1-trimethylammonium-3-chlorocarbanilate chloride (McN-A-343), and the novel M(1)-selective agonist 1-(1-2-methylbenzyl)-1,4-bipiperidin-4-yl)-1H benzo[d]imidazol-2(3H)-one (TBPB) were tested as substitution and/or pretreatment to cocaine. Both muscarinic antagonists partially substituted for cocaine and enhanced its discriminative stimulus. Conversely, muscarinic agonists blunted cocaine discrimination and abolished cocaine self-administration with varying effects on food-maintained behavior. Specifically, increasing selectivity for the M(1) subtype (oxotremorine < xanomeline < TBPB) conferred lesser nonspecific rate-suppressing effects, with no rate suppression for TBPB. In mutant mice lacking M(1) and M(4) receptors, xanomeline failed to diminish cocaine discrimination while rate-decreasing effects were intact. Our data suggest that central M(1) receptor activation attenuates cocaine's abuse-related effects, whereas non-M(1)/M(4) receptors probably contribute to undesirable effects of muscarinic stimulation. These data provide the first demonstration of anticocaine effects of systemically applied, M(1) receptor agonists and suggest the possibility of a new approach to pharmacotherapy for cocaine addiction.