The cellular distributions of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptors within the rodent and nonhuman primate basal forebrain magnocellular complex (BFMC) were demonstrated immunocytochemically using anti-peptide antibodies that recognize glutamate receptor (GluR) subunit proteins (i.e., GluR1, GluR4, and a conserved region of GluR2, GluR3, and GluR4c). In both species, many large GluR1-positive neuronal perikarya and aspiny dendrites are present within the medial septal nucleus, the nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca, and the nucleus basalis of Meynert. In this population of neurons in rat and monkey, GluR2/3/4c and GluR4 immunoreactivities are less abundant than GluR1 immunoreactivity. In rat, GluR1 does not colocalize with ChAT, but, within many neurons, GluR1 does colocalize with GABA, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and parvalbumin immunoreactivities. GluR1- and GABA/GAD-positive neurons intermingle extensively with ChAT-positive neurons. In monkey, however, most GluR1-immunoreactive neurons express ChAT and calbindin-D28 immunoreactivities. The results reveal that noncholinergic GABAergic neurons, within the BFMC of rat, express AMPA receptors, whereas cholinergic neurons in the BFMC of monkey express AMPA receptors. Thus, the cellular localizations of the AMPA subtype of GluR are different within the BFMC of rat and monkey, suggesting that excitatory synaptic regulation of distinct subsets of BFMC neurons may differ among species. We conclude that, in the rodent, BFMC GABAergic neurons receive glutamatergic inputs, whereas cholinergic neurons either do not receive glutamatergic synapses or utilize GluR subtypes other than AMPA receptors. In contrast, in primate, basal forebrain cholinergic neurons are innervated directly by glutamatergic afferents and utilize AMPA receptors.