The [14C]2-deoxy-D-glucose technique (Sokoloff, L., M. Reivich, C. Kennedy, M. Des Rosiers, C. Patlak, K. Pettigrew, O. Sakurada, and M. Shinohara (1977) J. Neurochem. 28: 897–916) was used to examine the effects of central muscarinic stimulation on local cerebral glucose utilization (LCGU) in the cerebral cortex of the unanesthetized rat. Systemic administration of the muscarinic agonist oxotremorine (OXO, 0.1 to 1.0 mg/kg, i.p.) increased LCGU in the neocortex, mesocortex, and paleocortex. In the neocortex, OXO was more potent in elevating LCGU of the auditory, frontal, and sensorimotor regions compared with the visual cortex. Within these neocortical regions, OXO effects were greatest in cortical layers IV and V. OXO effects were more dramatic in the neocortex than in the meso- or paleocortex, and no significant effect occurred in the perirhinal and pyriform cortices. OXO-induced LCGU increases were not influenced by methylatropine (1 mg/kg, s.c.) but were antagonized completely by scopolamine (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.). Scopolamine reduced LCGU in layer IV of the auditory cortex and in the retrosplenial cortex. The distribution and magnitude of the cortical LCGU response to OXO apparently were related to the distributions of cholinergic neurochemical markers, especially high affinity muscarinic binding sites.