Purpose: The objectives of this study were to compare the functional expression of muscarinic and purinergic receptors in the urinary bladder of 2 species, rat and guinea pig under comparable experimental conditions; and to test whether the receptors in males and females differ. Methods: Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) techniques were used to identify gene expression profiles in bladder smooth muscle (total n=8 rats, 7 guinea pigs) and mechanical responses to nerve stimulation and applied acetylcholine (ACh) in the presence of specific antagonists were used to identify functional receptor sub-types (total n=12 rats, 16 guinea pigs). Results: RT-PCR indicated that M2 and M3 were the predominant muscarinic receptor genes in both the male and female rat and guinea pig bladders. The phasic component of the nerve-induced contraction was greater in guinea pigs vs. rats. The tonic component and the ACh response were inhibited by the M3 receptor antagonist, darifenacin (10-6 M, P≤0.05), but not by the M2 receptor antagonist, methoctramine (10-5 M). The antipurinergic drug α, β-methylene ATP (5 × 10-5 M) caused a significant reduction in the amplitude of the phasic response to nerve stimulation in all groups, and this effect was significantly greater in male vs. female rats. mRNA for the purinergic P2X1, P2X2, P2X4, P2X5 and P2X7 receptors was detected in both male and female rats, whereas P2X3 and P2X6 were inconsistently detected in male rats. The P2X1 purinoceptor antagonist pyridoxal-5'-phosphate-6-(2'-naphthylazo-6'-nitro-4', 8'-disulphonate) (PPNDS), only inhibited nerve induced contractions at high concentrations (up to 10-4 M). Conclusions: While only minor functional differences were documented in cholinergic and purinergic bladder contractile responses between male and female animals, and between rats and guinea pigs, data such as presented in this study are critical in determining how relative functional contributions may change in the diseased state, providing valuable information towards new treatment options.