The molecular electrostatic potential (MEP) of 32 beta-adrenoceptor ligands, mainly antagonists, was calculated by the STO-3G ab initio quantum mechanical method. The MEP of phenylethanolamines (PEAs) features a negative minimum in the meta region (designated M1) which is topographically equivalent to a minimum (designated M2) found in the vicinity of the aromatic ring in all (aryloxy)propanolamines (AOPAs). In these compounds, a second negative zone located beyond the meta position and designated M3 is found in all beta 1-selective antagonists and in some nonselective and beta 2-selective antagonists. The beta 1-selective antagonists feature in the para position an additional zone which is positive (P4) in the full antagonists and negative (M4) in the antagonists displaying intrinsic sympathomimetic activity (ISA). The MEP-based pharmacophoric models of PEAs, AOPAs, and oxime ethers show common elements and lead to a proposed general model for beta-adrenoceptor ligands.