In this study we present evidence that lipolysis in man is under beta-2 adrenergic control and that beta-2 stimulation produces a characteristic profile of individual free fatty acid (FFA) release. Twelve healthy volunteers received infusions of placebo (N Saline), terbutaline (a selective beta-2 agonist) and dilevalol (a new non-selective beta-blocker with beta-2 agonist activity). Plasma FFA concentrations during and after the infusions were measured using gas chromatography. A significant rise in total and individual FFAs was seen after 30 min of terbutaline infusion. This was most marked for oleic acid. Total and individual FFA concentrations also rose after 30 min of dilevalol infusion; this was only significant for oleic acid and was approximately 15% of the rise induced by terbutaline infusion. Placebo infusion did not cause any significant changes in FFA levels.