There is evidence that hypothalamic norepinephrine (NE) plays a role in the control of appetite in the rat. Using specific and sensitive radioenzymatic assays, we determined if there was a difference in the tissue (hypothalamus, cerebral cortex and kidney) concentration of NE or of dopamine (DA) in mice with the hereditary obese-hyperglycemic syndrome (ob/ob) and their normal weight littermates. Obese mice had a higher concentration of hypothalamic NE than their normal weight littermates, both when they were in the rapid growth phase (2-3 months of age) and when they were mature (6-7 months of age). The concentration of NE was similar in the cerebral cortex of obese and normal mice and in the kidneys of obese and normal mice. The concentration of DA was similar in the hypothalamus of obese and normal mice and in the cerebral cortex of obese and normal mice. These observations support the concept that alterations in hypothalamic NE may play a role in the obesity of ob/ob mice.