A large family of genes encoding subunits of nicotinic ACh receptors (AChRs) has been identified in vertebrates and shown to be expressed in the nervous system. The multiplicity of genes raises questions about which gene products coassemble to produce native receptor subtypes and how the expression of receptor genes is regulated in neurons. We report here that five neuronal AChR genes are expressed in the chick ciliary ganglion at both early and late times in development. Quantitative RNase protection experiments demonstrated that at embryonic day 18 (E18) the ganglion contains about 1800 copies of alpha 7 transcript per neuron, 900 copies of alpha 3 transcript per neuron, and 200–300 copies each of alpha 5, beta 2, and beta 4 transcripts per neuron. The same five genes are expressed at significantly lower levels at E8 but show the same rank order of abundance in transcripts per neuron. Few, if any, transcripts were found for the alpha 2, alpha 4, alpha 8, and beta 3 AChR genes in ciliary ganglion RNA at either E8 or E18. The 6- and 13- fold increases previously reported for two classes of AChRs on the neurons between E8 and E18 approximate the 4–14-fold increases observed here in AChR gene mRNA levels per neuron over the same time period. The alpha 3, alpha 5, alpha 7, and beta 4 genes have previously been correlated with subunits of ciliary ganglion AChRs, but the beta 2 gene has not. The abundance of beta 2 transcripts raises the possibility either that the known AChRs in the ganglion have a more complex subunit composition than previously described or that additional receptor subtypes remain to be discovered. Northern blot analysis revealed no changes in transcript pattern for the alpha 3, alpha 5, and beta 4 genes between E8 and E18; a small change may occur in the transcript pattern for the alpha 7 gene. In situ hybridizations demonstrated that alpha 5 and beta 4 transcripts are expressed in essentially all ciliary ganglion neurons as has been shown previously for the more abundant alpha 3 transcript and inferred for the alpha 7 transcript. The results indicate that neurons can stably coexpress multiple AChR genes, including three of the alpha type, and that transcript levels may be rate limiting for accumulation of AChRs during development.