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Catecholamines play an important role in embryogenesis, and data obtained in the rodent model indicate that they can act even during the preimplantation period of development. Using RT-PCR with specific oligonucleotide primers distinguishing among all members of the adrenergic receptor family, we examined expression of adrenergic receptors in bovine and rabbit oocytes, morulas and blastocysts. We found several profiles of adrenoceptor mRNA expression. Transcripts for some receptor subtypes (bovine alpha 2 receptors, rabbit α2A, α2C, β1 and β2 receptors) were detected at all examined stages, which suggests receptor expression throughout (or at most stages) the preimplantation developmental period. Expression in oocytes but not at later stages was found in only one adrenoceptor subtype (rabbit α1B). In contrast, mRNA for several adrenoceptors was found in embryos but not in oocytes (bovine beta adrenoceptors and rabbit α1A). Nucleotide sequences of our PCR products amplified in rabbit oocytes, and preimplantation embryos represent the first published mRNA sequences (partial sequences coding at least one transmembrane region) of rabbit α2C, β1 and β2 adrenoceptors. Our results suggest that the expression of adrenergic receptors can be a general feature of mammalian oocytes and preimplantation embryos. On the other hand, comparison of three mammalian species (cattle, rabbit and mouse) revealed possible interspecies differences in the expression of particular adrenoceptor subtypes. Our results support the opinion that stress mediators can act directly in cells of preimplantation embryos.