The sympathetic nervous system is involved in the control of energy metabolism and expenditure. Diet-induced thermogenesis is mediated partly by the ß-adrenergic component of this system. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of genetic variation in the ß2-adrenoceptor in diet-induced thermogenesis. Data from twenty-four subjects (fourteen men and ten women; BMI 26·7(sem 0·8) kg/m2; age 45·2(sem1·4) years) with different polymorphisms of the ß2-adrenoceptor at codon 16 (Gly16Gly, Gly16Arg or Arg16Arg) were recruited for this study. Subjects were given a high-carbohydrate liquid meal, and the energy expenditure, respiratory exchange ratio, and plasma concentrations of NEFA, glycerol, glucose, insulin and catecholamines were measured before and over 4 h after the meal. The AUC of energy expenditure (diet-induced thermogenesis) was not significantly different between polymorphism groups, nor was the response of any of the other measured variables to the meal. In a multiple regression model, the only variable that explained a significant proportion (32 %) of the variation in diet-induced thermogenesis was the increase in plasma adrenaline in response to the meal (P<0·05). The ß2-adrenoceptor codon16 polymorphisms did not contribute significantly. In conclusion, an independent contribution of the codon 16 polymorphism of the ß2-adrenoceptor gene to the variation in thermogenic response to a high-carbohydrate meal could not be demonstrated. The interindividual variation in thermogenic response to the meal was correlated with variations in the plasma adrenaline response to the meal.