Since the classification of beta-adrenergic receptors (beta-ARs) into beta 1 and beta 2 subtypes, additional beta-ARs have been implicated in the control of various metabolic processes by catecholamines. A human gene has been isolated that encodes a third beta-AR, here referred to as the "beta 3-adrenergic receptor." Exposure of eukaryotic cells transfected with this gene to adrenaline or noradrenaline promotes the accumulation of adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate; only 2 of 11 classical beta-AR blockers efficiently inhibited this effect, whereas two others behaved as beta 3-AR agonists. The potency order of beta-AR agonists for the beta 3-AR correlates with their rank order for stimulating various metabolic processes in tissues where atypical adrenergic sites are thought to exist. In particular, novel beta-AR agonists having high thermogenic, antiobesity, and antidiabetic activities in animal models are among the most potent stimulators of the beta 3-AR.