Caveolin-2 is a member of the caveolin gene family with no known function. Although caveolin-2 is coexpressed and heterooligomerizes with caveolin-1 in many cell types (most notably adipocytes and endothelial cells), caveolin-2 has traditionally been considered the dispensable structural partner of the widely studied caveolin-1. We now directly address the functional significance of caveolin-2 by genetically targeting the caveolin-2 locus (Cav-2) in mice. In the absence of caveolin-2 protein expression, caveolae still form and caveolin-1 maintains its localization in plasma membrane caveolae, although in certain tissues caveolin-1 is partially destabilized and shows modestly diminished protein levels. Despite an intact caveolar membrane system, the Cav-2-null lung parenchyma shows hypercellularity, with thickened alveolar septa and an increase in the number of endothelial cells. As a result of these pathological changes, these Cav-2-null mice are markedly exercise intolerant. Interestingly, these Cav-2-null phenotypes are identical to the ones we and others have recently reported for Cav-1-null mice. As caveolin-2 expression is also severely reduced in Cav-1-null mice, we conclude that caveolin-2 deficiency is the clear culprit in this lung disorder. Our analysis of several different phenotypes observed in caveolin-1-deficient mice (i.e., abnormal vascular responses and altered lipid homeostasis) reveals that Cav-2-null mice do not show any of these other phenotypes, indicating a selective role for caveolin-2 in lung function. Taken together, our data show for the first time a specific role for caveolin-2 in mammalian physiology independent of caveolin-1.