These experiments were designed to determine the site and mechanism of action of neomycin on cholinergic transmission. These agents depressed the response of rat diaphragm preparations to phrenic nerve stimulation and to injected acetylcholine (ACh); however, equi-effective neuromuscular blocking concentrations of neomycin (6 x 10(-4) M), streptomycin (1.2 x 10(-3) M) or d-tubocurarine (6.5 x 10(-7) M) reduced the muscle response to injected ACh to 54,27 and 15% of control, respectively, suggesting that neomycin and streptomycin have a presynaptic effect. This finding was confirmed by measuring ACh release from the diaphragm during phrenic nerve stimulation; neomycin (6x10(-4) M) and streptomycin (1.2 x 10(-4) M) depressed ACh release to 29 and 41% of control, respectively. In the cat superior cervical ganglion neomycin (2 x 10(-3) M) blocked ganglionic transmission, did not reduce the response of ganglion cells to injected nicotine and depressed ACh release during preganglionic nerve stimulation to 61% of control in normal Ca++ (2.5 mM) medium and to less than 10% of control in low Ca++ (0.5 mM) medium. The increased accululation of 45Ca induced in rat isolated ganglia by preganglionic nerve stimulation was not changed by d-tubocurarine (2 x 10(-4) M), but was abolished by neomycin (2 x10(-3) M). It is concluded that neomycin blocks ACh release by blocking the influx of Ca++ necessary for transmitter release. This conclusion suggested that neomycin should block noradrenaline release, and this was shown using the anococcygeus preparation from the rat.