Adrenergic receptors (ARs) are members of the G-protein-coupled receptor family, which includes alpha 1ARs, alpha 2ARs, beta 1ARs, beta 2ARs, beta 3ARs, adenosine, muscarinic, angiotensin, endothelin receptors, and many others that are responsible for a large variety of physiologic effects through G-protein coupling. This review focuses on alpha 1ARs and their regulation at both the mRNA and protein levels. Currently, three alpha 1AR subtypes have been characterized both pharmacologically and at the gene level: alpha 1aAR, alpha 1bAR, and alpha 1dAR. These are expressed in a species- and tissue-dependent manner. Mutagenesis approaches have been extremely valuable in the identification of key residues that govern alpha 1AR ligand binding and signaling. These studies reveal that alpha 1ARs have evolved an exquisitely sensitive regulation of their activity in which any disruption of the native structure has profound effects on subsequent function and effector coupling. Significant advances have also been made in the elucidation of signaling pathway components, resulting in the identification of novel pathways that can lead to pathologic conditions. Specific topics include mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and G-protein-coupled receptor cross-talk pathways. Within this context, recent studies identifying underlying transcriptional mechanisms involved in the regulation of the alpha 1AR subtypes are also discussed. Finally, given the potentially important role of alpha 1ARs in the vasculature, as well as in the pathology of many diseases, such as myocardial hypertrophy and benign prostatic hyperplasia, the clinical relevance of alpha 1AR distribution, pharmacology, and therapeutic intervention is reviewed.