The cholinergic synapse is an important interdisciplinary research topic for two principal reasons: 1. Its intrinsic value as a system of choice for investigating many fundamental issues of development, structure and function/malfunction of synapses in general; 2. Due to its crucial biological role, it is the target of a variety of natural toxins and synthetic poisons and drugs. For example, it is the target of the first generation of anti-Alzheimer drugs, of nerve agents and insecticides, of botulinum toxin and the South American Indian arrow poison, curare, and of drugs for the treatment of myasthenia gravis and glaucoma. Thus a large body of neuroscientists, with a broad range of interests, focus their research on this synapse. The triennnial symposium on cholinergic mechanisms provides a key multidisciplinary forum for their interaction, and the proceedings of the XIth ISCM, held in St Moritz in May 2002, provide a cutting edge profile of research progress in this important field of research.