Tachykinin-like peptides have been identified in many vertebrate and invertebrate species. On the basis of the data reviewed in this paper, these peptides can be classified into two distinct subfamilies, which are recognized by their respective sequence characteristics. All known vertebrate tachykinins and a few invertebrate ones share a common C-terminal sequence motif, -FXGLMa. The insect tachykinins, which have a common -GFX1GX2Ra C-terminus, display about 30% of sequence homology with the first group. Tachykinins are multifunctional brain/gut peptides. In mammals and insects, various isoforms play an important neuromodulatory role in the central nervous system. They are involved in the processing of sensory information and in the control of motor activities. In addition, members of both subfamilies elicit stimulatory responses on a variety of visceral muscles. The receptors for mammalian and insect tachykinins show a high degree of sequence conservation and their functional characteristics are very similar. In both mammals and insects, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) plays a prominent role in tachykinin peptide metabolism.