We investigated the effects of choline, 3,4-diaminopyridine and their combination on acetylcholine release from the corpus striatum of freely moving rats which were treated or not with atropine. Intraperitoneal administration of choline or intrastriatal administration of 3,4-diaminopyridine increased acetylcholine levels in striatal dialysates in a dose-dependent manner. When 3,4-diaminopyridine treatment was combined with choline, the observed effect was considerably greater than the sum of the increases produced by choline or 3,4-diaminopyridine alone. Administration of atropine (1 mu M) in the dialysing medium was also found to be effective to stimulate striatal acetylcholine levels. 3,4-Diaminopyridine did not affect acetylcholine levels under these conditions. Whereas the choline-induced increase in acetylcholine release was significantly potentiated by atropine, co-administration of 3,4-diaminopyridine with choline failed to produce a further significant increase in the presence of atropine. These results suggest that a highly effective means for increasing acetylcholine release involves two concurrent treatments that increase neuronal choline levels and inhibition of the negative feedback modulation of acetylcholine release.