β3-Adrenoceptor agonists have recently been introduced for the symptomatic treatment of the overactive bladder syndrome. As such treatment is not curative, long-term treatment is anticipated to be required. As the susceptibility of β3-adrenoceptors to undergo agonist-induced desensitization is cell type- and tissue-dependent, we have explored whether pre-treatment with a β-adrenoceptor agonist will attenuate subsequent relaxation responses to freshly added agonist using rat urinary bladder as a model. We have used the prototypical β-adrenoceptor agonist isoprenaline, the β2-selective fenoterol and the β3-selective CL 316,243 and mirabegron as well as the receptor-independent bladder relaxant forskolin. We show that a 6-h pre-treatment with agonist can significantly reduce subsequent relaxation against KCl-induced smooth muscle tone, but agonist-induced desensitization was also observed with longer pre-treatments or against passive tension. The agonist-induced desensitization was prominent for the β2 component of rat bladder relaxation but much weaker or even absent for the β3 component. Moreover, β-adrenoceptor agonist pre-treatment reduced contractile responses to the muscarinic agonist carbachol and the receptor-independent stimulus KCl. Taken together these data do not support the hypothesis that the long-term clinical efficacy of β3-adrenoceptor agonists in the treatment of the overactive bladder syndrome will be limited by receptor desensitization. Rather they raise the possibility that such treatment may not only cause smooth muscle relaxation but also may attenuate hyper-contractility of the bladder.