The distribution of choline acetyltransferase was determined in normal and transplanted rat superior colliculus with choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry. This distribution was compared to the pattern of histochemically detected acetylcholinesterase activity. To determine cholinergic input to the superficial superior colliculus, double labelling experiments combining retrograde tracing methods and choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry were carried out. No choline acetyltransferase-containing neurons were observed in the rat superior colliculus. A dense network of choline acetyltransferaseimmunoreactive fibres and terminals was seen in the intermediate layers of the normal superior colliculus. The distribution was patchy and very similar to the pattern of acetylcholinesterase activity. Occasional fibres and terminals were seen in the deep tectal laminae. The superficial layers contained a low number of choline acetyltransferase-stained fibres and terminals but a comparatively high level of acetylcholinesterase activity. Following a unilateral injection of a tracer into the superficial superior colliculus, retrogradely labelled choline acetyltransferase-immunoreactive neurons were found in the dorsal and ventral subnuclei of the ipsilateral parabigeminal nucleus. As in the normal superior colliculus, choline acetyltransferase-positive neurons were not found in tectal transplants. However, choline acetyltransferase-immunoreactive fibres and terminals were seen in grafts but only in those which had extensive connections with the host midbrain. The pattern of staining most closely resembled that seen in the intermediate layers of the normal superior colliculus. The similar arrangement of choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholinesterase activity in the intermediate layers of normal rat superior colliculus provides further evidence for cholinergic innervation to these layers, probably originating in the dorsal and pedunculopontine tegmental nuclei. The data from the double labelling experiments indicate that the choline acetyltransferase-immunoreactive terminals observed in the superficial layers represent the terminal field of an ipsilateral cholinergic projection from the parabigeminal nucleus. Tectal grafts receive cholinergic innervation from the host. The evidence suggests that much of this input derives from the cholinergic nuclei in the brainstem tegmentum which normally project to the intermediate tectal layers.