1. The activities of the (-)- and (+)-forms of m- and p-octopamine and m- and p-synephrine on alpha 1-adrenoceptors from rat aorta and anococcygeus and alpha 2-adrenoceptors from rabbit saphenous vein were compared with those of noradrenaline (NA). 2. The rank order of potency of the (-)-forms on alpha 1-adrenoceptors from rat aorta and alpha 2-adrenoceptors was NA greater than m-octopamine = m-synephrine greater than p-octopamine = p-synephrine. The two m-compounds were 6 fold less active than NA on alpha 1-adrenoceptors from rat aorta and 150 fold less active on alpha 2-adrenoceptors. The two p- compounds were 1,000 fold less active than NA on both alpha 1-adrenoceptors from rat aorta and alpha 2-adrenoceptors. The rank order of potency of the (-)- forms on alpha 1-adrenoceptors from rat anococcygeus was NA = m-synephrine greater than m-octopamine greater than p-octopamine = p-synephrine. m-Octopamine was 4 fold less active than NA and (-)-m-synephrine. The two p- compounds were 30 fold less active than NA. 3. The rank order of potency of the (+)- forms was NA greater than m-octopamine greater than m-synephrine greater than p-octopamine greater than p-synephrine on both alpha 1- and alpha 2-adrenoceptors. The potency of each (+)- form was 1-2 orders of magnitude less than that of the (-) counterpart, the differences being greater for the stereoisomers of synephrine than for those of octopamine on both alpha 1- and alpha 2-adrenoceptors. 4. The yohimbine diastereoisomer antagonists, rauwolscine and corynanthine, were tested against (-)-NA and (-)-m-octopamine-induced contractions in both preparations. Based upon the known selectivities of these isomers for alpha-adrenoceptor subtypes, it is concluded that the rat aorta contains only alpha 1-adrenoceptors while the rabbit saphenous vein possesses predominantly alpha 2-adrenoceptors. 5. Ligand binding data for the octopamine and synephrine stereoisomers at alpha 1- and alpha 2-binding sites from rat cerebral cortex was also obtained. (-)-Forms were more active than (+)-forms. The rank order of affinity of the (-)-forms for both alpha 1- and alpha 2-binding sites was NA greater than m-octopamine = m-synephrine greater than p-synephrine greater than p-octopamine. The relative affinities of the members of the series against alpha 1-binding sites were very similar to their relative functional activities on rat aorta. However, the affinities of both m- and p-compounds relative to that of ( -)-NA were much greater at the x2-binding sites than were the relative activities in rabbit saphenous vein, possibly suggesting low intrinsic efficacy. Functional antagonist responses to NA by the (-)-octopamine and synephrines could not, however, be demonstrated on rat aorta or rabbit saphenous vein. 6. The activities of m-octopamine and m-synephrine were not significantly different from each other on either a,-adrenoceptors from rat aorta or x2-adrenoceptors; however, m-synephrine is more active than m-octopamine on a,-adrenoceptors from rat anococcygeus. Both m-octopamine and msynephrine can be considered to be naturally occurring x,-selective amines. However, if m- and poctopamine are co-released with NA in amounts proportional to their concentration, it is concluded that their activities on m,- and x2-adrenoceptors are too low to be physiologically significant.