The adrenergic innervation of the heart of the bat (Miniopterus schreibersii) was studied with a fluorescence histochemical technique. The appearance and distribution pattern of the terminal adrenergic nerve fibers demonstrated in the atria, sinoatrial and atrioventricular nodes, and ventricles is typically mammalian. Fine varicose adrenergic fibers run in and parallel to the ventricular muscle where they are common and uniformly distributed. Indian ink perfusion of the coronary vasculature demonstrates the high density of vessels in the ventricles, but obscures the terminal innervation of the ventricular muscle. This alone, or in combination with the apparent seasonal change in the terminal innervation of the ventricles, may explain the inability of previous workers to identify an adrenergic ventricular innervation in the bat Nyctalus noctula. The adrenergic ventricular innervation might be involved in the large increases in cardiac output associated with the commencement of flight and in the massive sympathetic activation that mediates arousal from torpor. (C) 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.