We have previously shown a direct relationship (r = .97) between the fall in arterial blood pressure and the increase in skeletal muscle oxygen extraction (MVO2) during canine endotoxemia. Since it is well known that hypotension activates the sympathetic system, the primary aim of these experiments was to determine if the increase in MVO2 during endotoxemia is a result of elevated levels of catecholamines due to increased sympathetic neural and/or humoral activity (sympathoadrenal system). Canine gracilis muscles were vascularly isolated and perfused in situ at a constant flow (6–7 ml/min/100 g). Endotoxemia was induced by a 30 min intravenous infusion of Escherichia coli endotoxin (2 mg/kg), which induced a 50% reduction in arterial pressure. Perfusion pressure, mean arterial pressure, and arteriovenous oxygen difference (a-v O2) were continuously measured. We found 1) no significant difference between the amount of O2 extracted by an innervated or a denervated muscle during endotoxemia; 2) the intra-arterial infusion of norepinephrine or epinephrine into a denervated gracilis muscle (plasma molar concentrations of; 10-11, 10-9, 10-7, and 10-5) failed to increase MVO2 to the level observed during endotoxemia; 3) pretreatment of a muscle with pro-pranolol to block skeletal muscle β-adrenergic receptors, did not suppress the endotoxin-induced rise in MVO2. We concluded that the increase in MVO2 seen after the administration of endotoxin is not due to either increased sympathetic nerve activity or elevated levels of circulating catecholamines. We speculate that the increased MVO2 during endotoxemia is caused by nonadrenergic mediators released by endotoxin rather than the hypotensive stimulus.