Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR), which modulate fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (f-EPSP), are located on both pre- and postganglionic sites in the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The receptor subunits alpha3, alpha5, alpha7, beta2 and beta4 are present in autonomic ganglia in various combinations and modulate acetylcholine (ACh) transmission. In the present study, autonomic functions were systemically examined in mice lacking beta2 subunits (beta2-/-) to further understand the functional role of beta2 subunits in modulating ganglionic transmission. The results show normal autonomic functions, both under physiological conditions and in perturbed conditions, on thermoregulation, pupillary size, heart rate responses and ileal contractile reactions. This suggests that the function of beta2-containing receptors in ganglionic transmission is hidden by the predominant beta4 containing receptors and confirms previous studies which suggest that alpha3alpha5beta4 nAChRs are sufficient for autonomic transmission. On the other hand, beta2-containing receptors have only a minor function on postsynaptic responses to ACh, but may modulate ACh release presynaptically, although there is no evidence for this. (C) 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.