The present studies examined the involvement of peripheral beta-adrenergic receptor activity in the establishment and expression of conditioned morphine-induced alterations of immune status. Previous work in our laboratory has shown that morphine's immunomodulatory effects can become conditioned to environmental stimuli which predict drug administration. These immune alterations include conditioned changes in natural killer cell activity, interleukin-2 production, and mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation. During the training phase of these experiments, Lewis rats received two conditioning sessions during which a subcutaneous injection of 15 mg/kg morphine sulfate was paired with exposure to a distinctive environment. On the test day, rats were reexposed to the conditioned stimulus prior to sacrifice. Saline or nadolol (0.002, 0.02, 0.2, or 2.0 mg/kg) was administered either prior to the training sessions or prior to the test session. Administration of nadolol prior to training did not affect the development of conditioned alterations of immune status. Conversely, nadolol administration prior to testing completely attenuated the expression of a subset of the conditioned morphine-induced changes in immune status. Taken together, these studies suggest that whereas peripheral beta-adrenergic receptor activity is not required for the establishment of conditioned morphine-induced alterations of immune status, it is involved in the expression of a subset of these conditioned immunomodulatory effects.