We previously showed that a 48-h intravenous lipid infusion in rats induces pancreatic β-cell hypersensitivity to catecholamines. Our aim was to study the lipid-related changes that may account for such hypersensitivity in pancreatic islets. We show here that a 48-h increase in plasma FFA alters the binding characteristics of β-cell α2 adrenoceptors in rats. Lipid infusion decreases pancreatic norepinephrine (NE) turnover rate by 28%, reflecting a reduction of pancreatic NE stores. Following lipid infusion, the density of α2 adrenoceptor binding sites is significantly lower and receptor affinity higher, both in islet homogenates (by three- and fivefold, respectively) and isolated whole β-cells (by two- and sixfold, respectively). These changes correlate with the elevated insulin response to glucose found in lipid-infused rats. We also found a modification of islet phospholipid content, particularly in phosphoethanolamine species containing infused FA such as palmitate, oleate, stearate, and linoleate. This may account for the modifications in receptor affinity. These results suggest that hyperlipidemia-associated pathologies such as diabetes and obesity not only may result from alterations of metabolic pathways but also may be a consequence of early modifications in nervous firing rates and signal transduction pathways.