In Bombyx mori, ecdysteroidogenesis by the prothoracic glands (PGs) is controlled by both prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) and a factor secreted by the glands themselves. This factor, which is active both in vitro and in vivo, has been named 'autocrine factor' (AF). To find out whether or not this dual control also exists in other species, in particular in hemimetabolous ones, we applied similar methods as were used to discover AF in Bombyx to the locusts Locusta migratoria and Schistocerca gregaria. Our results unequivocally show that locust PGs also secrete an as yet unidentified autocrine factor. Possible roles of AF are discussed. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.