The Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimardi, a marsupial) is a rat-kangaroo that increases nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) in response to norepinephrine (NE). This study attempted to assess whether brown adipose tissue (BAT), a specialized thermogenic effector, is involved in NST in the bettong. Regulatory NST, indicated by resting oxygen consumption (Vo2) of the whole body, was measured under conscious conditions at 20 degrees C with various stimuli: cold (4 degrees -5 degrees C) or warm (25 degrees C) acclimation, NE injection, and the beta3-adrenoceptor agonist (BRL) 37344. In line with the functional studies in vivo, the presence of BAT was evaluated by examining the expression of the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) with both rat cDNA and oligonucleotide probes. Both NE and BRL 37344 significantly stimulated NST in the bettong. After cold acclimation of the animals (at 4 degrees -5 degrees C for 2 wk), the resting Vo2 was increased by 15% and the thermogenic effect of NE was enhanced; warm-acclimated animals showed a slightly depressed response. However, no expression of UCP1 was detected in bettongs either before or after cold exposure (2 wk). These data suggest that the observed NST in the marsupial bettong is not attributable to BAT.