Age-related differences in the response of the cerebral cortex and ileum strip to a repeated treatment with an anticholinesterase compound, diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP) were evaluated in 3- and 24-month Sprague-Dawley rats. The response was measured in terms of acetylcholinestrase (AChE) inhibition and total muscarinic receptor density (MAChRs, measured as3 H-QNB binding). At the end of DFP treatment there was a 75% inhibition of brain AChE and 30% inchibition of ileal AChE, independently of age. The adaptive down-regulation of brain MAChRs was more pronounced in aged than in young rats (50 and 25%, respectively), while that of ileal MAChRs was greater in young than in aged <rats> (50 and 35%). The normalization of cortical MAChRs was delayed in aged rats of ileal MAChRs was delayed in young rats. As regards age-related changes of AChE and MAChRs in untreated rats, there was a 30% decrease of cortical and ileal AChE, no changes in Bmax of cortical MAChRs and a 45% deficit of ileal MAChRs. This was accompanied by only a little age-related decrease in sensitivity of the isolated ileum to cholinergic agonists. Additional experiments on the responsiveness of phosphatidyl inositol syste stimulated with carbachol showed that accumulation of inositol phosphate both in cortical and ileum strip slices was higher in aged than in young rats. The overall data indicate that treatment- and age-related changes of AChR mechanisms in the ileum strip differ considerably from those in the brain. However, the increased efficiency of post-receptor mechanisms in old age is their common feature.