Multiple behavioral and neurochemical abnormalities are found in the genetically obese mouse, obob , including hyperphagia, elevated hypothalamic norepinephrine (NE) levels, and increases alpha-1 receptor density. The obese mutant also responds abnormally to neuropharmacological agents. In the current study the alpha-2 receptor blockers yohimbine and rauwolscine were administered to food-restricted (6-hour food access) obob and lean mice. Yohimbine and rauwolscine significantly reduced the 3- and 6-hour food intake of both obob and lean mice. The obob mice were, however, more sensitive to this anorectic effect than lean mice. Effective anorectic doses of yohimbine did not affect water intake in water-deprived lean mice, suggesting a specific effect of the drug upon food intake. Low doses (50 and 100 micrograms) of the alpha-2 agonist clonidine increased the 1-hour food intake of obob mice, but did not affect the food intake of lean mice. No differences were found between obob and lean mice in the number of alpha-receptors in the hypothalamus. The results suggest that modification of NE release by manipulation of alpha-2 receptor can alter food intake, and that the obob mutant is particularly sensitive to this effect.