Adipocytes express a mixture of beta-adrenergic receptor subtypes, including the recently characterized beta 3 receptor. The co-expression of these subtypes by fat cells suggest they serve different signalling functions. In this review, the properties of recombinant and natively-expressed beta 3 receptors are detailed and contrasted with those of beta 1 and beta 2 receptors. The beta 3 receptor appears to differ from the other beta receptor subtypes with respect to receptor coupling efficiency, G-protein coupling specificity and regulation by agonist exposure. Lastly, the potential of the beta 3 receptor as a therapeutic target is discussed in view of new data regarding its tissue distribution in humans.