A major unresolved issue in insect endocrinology concerns the question of whether or not insects have sex hormones. Conclusive evidence in favor of the presence of such hormones awaits the establishment of appropriate bioassays in males. The cuticle of sexually mature males of the desert locust Schistocerca gregana turns yellow in gregarious conditions only. Neither females nor isolated males ever turn yellow. The yellowing is due to the deposition in the cuticle of a male-specific Yellow Protein (YP), of which the amino acid sequence is known. in this paper, we describe the partial cloning of the cDNA encoding this Yellow Protein. The tissue distribution and temporal expression of the YP-mRNA is studied in detail using RT-PCR. Furthermore, an RT-PCR based bioassay was developed, which may serve as a reliable tool to help identify the hormones controlling the yellowing process. In addition to juvenile hormone, we have shown that a factor present in the brain-corpora cardiaca is involved in the yellow coloration, as injection of an extract induces the expression of YP-mRNA in isolated gregarious males. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.