We describe the use of a commercially available telemetry and data acquisition system to record heart rate, body temperature and activity of freely behaving rats with transmitters that operate without batteries (transponders). The system uses PDT 4000HR E-Mitters (Mini Mitter, OR, USA) to acquire animal temperature, heart rate and motor activity data. E-Mitters obtain power from a radiofrequency field produced by an ER-4000 energizer/receiver so that transponders can collect data on heart rate, body temperature and gross motor activity. ER-4000 energizers/receivers are designed to be placed below the animals' cage. Data output from receivers is managed by a Windows PC-based data acquisition system, VitalView(TM). In this study, we report that a good correlation exists between VitalView(TM) and Powerlab for the determination of heart rate and between intra-abdominal (telemetric) and colonic body temperature (rectal digital thermometer) in rats. Assessment of this system by using agents that have well-documented effects on heart rate, body temperature and locomotor activity have also been determined. An additional feature of VitalView(TM) is the incorporation of behavioural inputs (feeding monitors to monitor duration and frequency of feeding and a lickometer to monitor drinking bouts) into the data acquisition system designed primarily to acquire data from the implanted transponders. Circadian rhythms for all parameters were established in rats with E-Miners implanted. VitalView(TM) may be used for the determination of multiple parameters in freely behaving animals using transponders, which operate without batteries. This capability is unique in its field and represents a recent advance in biotelemetric monitoring of laboratory animals. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.