Bilateral electrodermal orienting responses were measured to repeated auditory stimuli in schizophrenic patients and controls. In 3 studies phasic activity to moderate intensity sounds of patients on no drugs or phenothiazines was predominantly hyper- or hypo-responsive. Controls showed moderate or slow habituation. Propranolol was found to facilitate habituation in slow habituators and to reinstate responses in half of non-responders, especially when given as the sole drug. The effects seldom had a counterpart in changes in non-specific responses or levels of skin conductance. Modulatory influences on stimulus and response processing and on lateral asymmetries in responses may underlie propranolol's efficacy in treating schizophrenia.