The last decade, a new serine protease inhibitor family has been described in arthropods. Eight members were purified from the locusts Locusta migratoria (LMPI-1-2 and HI) and Schistocerca gregaria (SGPI-1-5). The light chain of the heterodimeric protease inhibitor pacifastin, from the freshwater crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, was found to be composed of nine consecutive inhibitory domains (PLDs). These domains share a pattern of six conserved cysteine residues (Cys-Xaa(9-12)-Cys-Asn-Xaa-Cys-Xaa-Cys-Xaa(2-3)-Gly-Xaa(3-6)-Cys-Thr-Xaa(3)-Cys) with the locust inhibitors. Via cDNA cloning, eight pacifastin-related precursors have been identified in locusts. Interestingly, additional pacifastin-related precursors have been identified in Diptera, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera utilising an in silico data mining approach. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.