Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is a wave of transient network hyperexcitability leading to long lasting depolarization and block of firing, which initiates focally and slowly propagates in the cerebral cortex. It causes migraine aura and it has been implicated in the generation of migraine headache. Cortical excitability can be modulated by cholinergic actions, leading in neocortical slices to the generation of rhythmic synchronous activities (UP/DOWN states). We investigated the effect of cholinergic activation with the cholinomimetic agonist carbachol on CSD triggered with 130 mM KCl pulse injections in acute mouse neocortical brain slices, hypothesizing that the cholinergic-induced increase of cortical network excitability during UP states could facilitate CSD. We observed instead an inhibitory effect of cholinergic activation on both initiation and propagation of CSD, through the action of muscarinic receptors. In fact, carbachol-induced CSD inhibition was blocked by atropine or by the preferential M1 muscarinic antagonist telenzepine; the preferential M1 muscarinic agonist McN-A-343 inhibited CSD similarly to carbachol, and its effect was blocked by telenzepine. Recordings of spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory post-synaptic currents in pyramidal neurons showed that McN-A-343 induced overall a decrease of the excitatory/inhibitory ratio. This inhibitory action may be targeted for novel pharmacological approaches in the treatment of migraine with muscarinic agonists.