Insufficient production of pulmonary surfactant in alveolar type II cells is relevant to many lung diseases. To cure its deficiency, glucocorticoid is commonly used in clinical areas. In the present study, we investigated the effect of dexamethasone on the secretion of phosphatidylcholine, a major phospholipid of pulmonary surfactant, in a primary culture of rat alveolar type II cells. Dexamethasone had no effect on the basal secretion rate of phosphatidylcholine. Dexamethasone augmented both the phosphatidylcholine secretion and the cyclic AMP formation increased by terbutaline. Furthermore, dexamethasone increased the number of beta-adrenoceptors and mRNA expression of beta 2-adrenoceptors in type II cells. These findings indicate that dexamethasone increases pulmonary surfactant secretion through an enhancement of beta 2-adrenoceptor gene expression.