Guanine nucleotides have been shown to stimulate phosphoinositide breakdown in brain membranes, but no potentiation of such an effect by agonists was demonstrated. We have studied the effect of carbachol and histamine on guanosine 5'-[γ-thio]triphosphate (GTP[S]) stimulation of inositol phosphates formation in [3H]inositol-labelled rat brain cortical membranes. In this preparation, GTP[S] enhancement of phosphoinositide hydrolysis required the presence of MgATP and low Ca2+ concentration (100 nM). Carbachol potentiation of the GTP[S] effect was only observed when 1 mM-deoxycholate was also added. Under these conditions, stimulated production of [3H]inositol phosphates was linear for at least 15 min, and [3H]inositol bisphosphate ([3H]IP2) accounted for approx. 80%, whereas the amount of [3H]inositol trisphosphate ([3H]IP3) was very low. Stimulation by GTP[S] was concentration-dependent (half-maximal effect at 0.86 μM), and its maximal effect (815% over basal) was increased by 1 mM-carbachol (1.9-fold) and -histamine (1.7-fold). Both agonists decreased the slope index of the GTP[S] concentration/effect curve to values lower than unity, suggesting the appearance of some heterogeneity in the population of guanine-nucleotide-binding proteins (G-proteins) involved. The carbachol and histamine effects were also concentration-dependent, and were inhibited by atropine and mepyramine respectively. Fluoroaluminate stimulated phosphoinositide hydrolysis to a higher extent than GTP[S] plus carbachol, and these stimulations were not additive, indicating that the same polyphosphoinositide phospholipase C-coupled G-protein mediates both effects.