Using in vitro receptor autoradiography, the distributions of cholinergic muscarinic [3H-N-methyl scopolamine (NMS), 3H-pirenzepine (PZ), and 3H-oxotremorine-M (OXO-M)] and nicotinic [3H-acetylcholine (ACh)] receptors were mapped in the temporal cortices of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) ranging from 2-22 years of age. Although high-affinity 3H-PZ, low-affinity 3H-NMS binding (M1 sites) and high-affinity 3H-OXO- M, high-affinity 3H-NMS binding (M2 sites) occurred across all layers of the temporal neocortex, the laminar distribution of M1 and M2 receptor binding sites was different. M1 muscarinic receptor binding was concentrated in layers II and III, whereas M2 muscarinic receptor binding was greatest in layers IV and V. The concentration of both muscarinic (M1 and M2) and nicotinic receptor binding sites declined with increasing age, and decrements were uniform across all cortical layers. This investigation provides evidence for a decrease in cholinergic receptor binding with age in temporal cortices of rhesus monkeys. Moreover, these changes appear to precede previously reported age-associated memory deficits and neuropathological changes that occur in this species.