The adrenergic inhibition of lipogenesis and stimulation of lipolysis in the avian has been examined using chicken hepatocytes and adipose tissue explants in vitro. Lipogenesis was inhibited by adrenergic agonists: epinephrine (alpha + beta) greater than isoproterenol (beta 1/beta 2) greater than norepinephrine (alpha 1/alpha 2, beta 1) greater than metaproterenol (beta 2), phenylephrine (alpha 1). Dobutamine (beta 1 agonist) and dopamine (dopaminergic agonist) did not significantly affect [14C]acetate incorporation into lipid, while clonidine and para-aminoclonidine (alpha 2 agonists) were slightly stimulatory. Lipolysis in young and adult chicken adipose tissue was stimulated by epinephrine, isoproterenol, phenylephrine, dobutamine and metaproterenol, but was inhibited by clonidine and para-aminoclonidine. Both the antilipogenic and lipolytic effects of epinephrine were partially blocked by phentolamine (alpha 1 = alpha 2 antagonist) or propranolol (beta 1 = beta 2 antagonist), but completely inhibited by phentolamine and propranolol administered together.