For more than a decade, immunohistochemical results on FMRFamide related peptides (FaRP's) have been reported extensively, suggesting many possible roles for these peptides associated with behavioural and physiological events as well as reproduction. This study provides a clear effect in vivo of members of this family of insect neuropeptides. The effect of two neuropeptide F-related peptides from the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, Led-NPF-1 and Led-NPF-2 as well as the locusts myotropins, Lom-PK-1, Lom-PK-2 and Lom-SK, was screened in an ovarian development assay in the African migratory locust and the grey fleshfly, Neobellieria bullata. Led-NPF-1 (Ala-Arg-Gly-Pro-Gln-Leu-Arg-Leu-Arg-Phe-NH2) was shown to be a potent gonadostimulin in Locusta migratoria, but not in Neobellieria bullata. A minimal dose of 0.05 mu g of Led-NPF-1 per animal, every 12 h, during 5 consecutive injections into 6 day old virgin females, could accelerate egg development. Higher doses of prolonged injections were demonstrated to be even more potent in the ovarian development assay. Led-NPF-2 (Ala-Pro-Ser-Leu-Arg-Leu-Arg-Phe-NH2) was far less active. The other tested peptides scored no reproducible effect what so ever on ovarian growth, in locusts, nor in flies. The gonadotropic action of a NPF-like peptide on oocyte growth implies a complex regulation of oogenesis in the locust and adds to our knowledge of insect neuroendocrinology in general. The results also suggest that a peptide of similar sequence also resides in the locust. (C) 1999 by Elsevier Science Inc.