Membrane vesicle preparations from the hearts of euthyroid, hyperthyroid, and hypothyroid rats were analyzed in an attempt to identify biochemical changes which might correlate with known functional changes occurring in these thyroid states. Several sarcolemmal constituents which have been shown to influence myocardial contractility were measured in membrane vesicle preparations from the hearts of animals in the three thyroid states. These constituents included the apparent number of alpha- and beta-adrenergic receptors (judged from specific binding of radiolabeled adrenergic antagonists) and Na-, K--ATPase activity. As a control for the recovery of sarcolemma in the preparations, the sialic acid content was measured in all preparations. The activity of K-, Ca2--ATPase, a sarcoplasmic reticulum enzyme which regulates intracellular ionized Ca2- concentration, was also measured. Membrane vesicles of the thyroxine-treated hyperthyroid rats showed a decrease (41%, p < 0.01) in the total apparent number of alpha-adrenergic receptors relative to euthyroid controls and an increase in the total apparent number of beta-adrenergic receptors (43%, p < 0.001). Membrane vesicles prepared from propylthiouracil-treated hypothyroid rats showed a decrease relative to euthyroid controls in the total apparent number of both alpha-adrenergic receptors (29%, p < 0.01) and beta-adrenergic receptors (23%, p < 0.05). The ratio of beta- to alpha-receptors approximately doubled in the hyperthyroid animals but remained unchanged compared to controls in the membranes isolated from hypothyroid animals. In the same membrane vesicle preparations, total sialic acid content was similar regardless of thyroid state. In addition.