Expression of the beta-adrenergic receptor (betaAR) and its coupling to cyclic AMP (cAMP) synthesis are important components of the signaling system that controls muscle atrophy and hypertrophy, and the goal of this study was to determine if electrical stimulation in a pattern simulating slow muscle contraction would alter the betaAR response in primary cultures of avian and mammalian skeletal muscle cells. Specifically, chicken skeletal muscle cells and rat skeletal muscle cells that had been grown for 7 d in culture were subjected to electrical stimulation for an additional 2 d at a pulse frequency of 0.5 pulses/sec and a pulse duration of 200 msec. In chicken skeletal muscle cells, the betaAR population was not significantly affected by electrical stimulation; however, the ability of these cells to synthesize cyclic AMP was reduced by approximately one-half. In contrast, the betaAR population in rat muscle cells was increased slightly but not significantly by electrical stimulation, and the ability of these cells to synthesize cyclic AMP was increased by almost twofold. The basal levels of intracellular cyclic AMP in neither rat muscle cells nor chicken muscle cells were affected by electrical stimulation.