Hepatocytes from hypothyroid rats have a marked beta-adrenergic responsiveness. Preincubation of these hepatocytes with isoprenaline induced a time-dependent and concentration-dependent desensitization of the beta-adrenergic responsiveness without altering that to glucagon (homologous desensitization). The desensitization was evidenced both in the cyclic AMP accumulation and in the stimulation of ureagenesis induced by the beta-adrenergic agonists. Under the same conditions, preincubation with glucagon induced no desensitization. Propranolol was also unable to induce desensitization, but blocked that induced by isoprenaline. Pertussis-toxin treatment did not alter the homologous beta-adrenergic desensitization induced by isoprenaline.