During the past 20 years, several bioactive peptides have been identified in teleost fishes that subsequently have been shown to play important regulatory roles in mammalian physiology. The urophysis, corpuscles of Stannius and Brockmann body are anatomical structures particular to fish that have no obvious counterpart in mammals. Extracts and/or cDNA libraries prepared from these tissues have been used to identify for the first time urotensin II (U-II), urotensin-I (U-I), stanniocalcin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Although U-II and U-I were originally regarded as exclusively the products of the teleost urophysis, the peptides have a wide phylogenetic distribution across the vertebrate lineage, including mammals. U-II is localized to motor neurones in the human spinal cord and is a potent vasoconstrictor that may be implicated in the pathogenesis of heart failure. The human ortholog of urotensin-I is urocortin which is synthesized in selected regions of the brain and is the endogenous ligand for the CRF type 2 receptor. Urocortin is believed to important in mediating the effects of stress on appetite. Stanniocalcin is involved in maintaining calcium and phosphate homeostasis in teleost fish. An ortholog of stanniocalcin has a widespread distribution in mammalian tissues and is postulated to regulate renal phosphate excretion and to protect neurons against damage during cerebral ischemia. The biological actions and therapeutic potential of GLP-1 in humans are now fully appreciated but the peptide was first identified as a domain in a preproglucagon cDNA prepared from anglerfish Brockmann bodies. In contrast to mammalian preproglucagons, GLP-1 is present in anglerfish preproglucagon as the bioactive, truncated sequence [corresponding to human GLP-1(7-37)] rather than the inactive, N-terminally extended form [corresponding to GLP-1(1-37)]. Failure to appreciate the significance of this fact retarded progress in the field for several years.