The effect of age on brain muscarinic receptor density is unclear. Some in vivo neuroimaging studies have reported a large age-related reduction in muscarinic receptor density; however, others have reported increases or no change. The variability in these results most likely arises because of the heterogeneity of the populations studied, differences in quantification methods employed, and a paucity of subtype selective ligands. Thus, we used the m(1)/m(4) selective probe (R,R)[I-123]-I-QNB to investigate age-related differences in brain muscarinic receptors in healthy females. We included 10 younger subjects (age range 26-37) and 22 older women (age range 57-82 years). The older women had significantly lower (R,R)[I-123]-T-QNB binding in widespread brain regions including cerebral cortex and hippocampus. Across all subjects, regional binding was significantly negatively correlated with age. Thus, in this population of healthy women, there was an age-related reduction in muscarinic receptor density. This may contribute to age-related differences in cognitive function and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. (c) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.