The first part of this study describes the distribution of all different types of octopaminergic, efferent dorsal unpaired median (DUM) neurons in the first two thoracic ganglia by immunocytochemistry, retrograde labeling, and intracellular staining. The prothoracic ganglion contains five different types of 10 DUM neurons. The mesothoracic ganglion has 21 octopaminergic somata in the DUM neuron cluster. Retrograde labeling and intracellular staining show that 19 of these 21 somata belong to five different types of efferent DUM neurons. In both ganglia, the number and the distribution of all types of DUM neurons are completely described. Differences in the distribution of efferent DUM neurons between the thoracic ganglia are discussed as functional segmental specializations. In the second part, we show that, in contrast to previous suggestions, DUM neurons are not recruited as a homogeneous population mediating general arousal but differentially, thus forming subpopulations of specific types. The existence or the absence of commonly occurring postsynaptic potentials in paired recordings clearly shows that only specific types of DUM neurons are targeted by the same presynaptic pathways. Within the thoracic ganglia, different subpopulations of DUM neurons can be distinguished by their different local inputs. Furthermore, only specific subpopulations of DUM neurons receive common intersegmental drive and inputs from the subesophageal ganglion. As a result of all our recordings, we propose a scheme for the differential activation of efferent DUM neurons. This scheme is sufficient to explain DUM neuron activity during principal motor programs.