alpha2-Adrenoceptors (alpha2-AR) modulate many central nervous system functions, such as regulation of sympathetic tone, vigilance, attention, and reactivity to environmental stressors. Three alpha2-AR subtypes (alpha2A, alpha2B, and alpha2C) with distinct tissue-distribution patterns are known to exist, but the functional significance of each subtype is not clear. Since specific, alpha2-AR subtype-selective pharmacological probes are not available, mice with genetically altered alpha2C-AR expression were studied in order to investigate the possible involvement of the alpha2C-AR in physiological and behavioral responses to acute and repeated stress. A modified version of Porsolt's forced swimming test was used to assess the possible effects of altered alpha2C-AR expression on the development of behavioral despair. alpha2C-Overexpression increased and the lack of alpha2C-AR (alpha2C-KO) decreased the immobility of mice in the forced swimming test, ie alpha2C-AR expression appeared to promote the development of behavioral despair. In addition, alpha2C-KO was associated with attenuated elevation of plasma corticosterone after different stressors, and overexpression of alpha2C-ARs was linked with increased corticosterone levels after repeated stress. Moreover, the brain dopamine and serotonin balance, but not norepinephrine turnover, was dependent on alpha2C-AR expression, and the expression of c-fos and junB mRNA was increased in alpha2C-KO mice. Since alpha2C-KO produced stress-protective effects, and alpha2C-AR overexpression seemed to promote the development of changes related to depression, it is suggested that a yet-to-be developed subtype-selective alpha2C-AR antagonist might have therapeutic value in the treatment of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders.