The chemical compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 acetylcholine (often abbreviated ACh) is a neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. Neurotransmitters are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane on the presynaptic side of a synapse, and are released into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to...

 in both the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

 (PNS) and central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

 (CNS) in many organisms including humans. Acetylcholine is one of many neurotransmitters in the autonomic nervous system
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 (ANS) and the only neurotransmitter used in the motor division of the somatic nervous system
Somatic nervous system
The somatic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of body movements via skeletal muscles...

 (sensory neurons use glutamate and various peptides at their synapses). Acetylcholine is also the principal neurotransmitter in all autonomic ganglia.

Acetylcholine slows the heart rate when functioning as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.