The mechanism of the effect of noradrenaline on the transport of 3-O-methyl-D-[14C]glucose ([14C]-MG) was studied in mouse brown adipocytes. When cells were exposed to low concentrations (< 10(-8) M) of insulin, the [14C]-MG uptake by cells was enhanced by noradrenaline additively. The action of noradrenaline was mimicked by isoproterenol, and was completely blocked by propranolol. Exposing cells to noradrenaline induced both an increase in the transport activity of plasma membrane fractions and a decrease in that of microsomal fractions similar to insulin exposure, indicating that noradrenaline also induces the translocation of glucose transporters to the plasma membrane. The ratio of an increase in the transport activity of plasma membrane fraction to a decrease in the activity of microsomal fraction was lower in cells exposed to noradrenaline than in cells exposed to insulin. This quantitative disagreement suggests that there are at least two different modes involved in the regulation of the translocation of glucose transporters in mouse brown adipocytes.