There are three midgut alpha-galactosidases (TG1, TG2, TG3) from Tenebrio molitor larvae that are partially resolved by ion-exchange chromatography. The enzymes have approximately the same pH optimum (5.0), pl value (4.6) and Mr value (46000-49000) as determined by gel filtration or native electrophoresis run in polyacrylamide gels with different concentrations. Substrate specificities and functions were proposed for the major T. molitor midgut alpha-galactosidases (TG2 and TG3) based on chromatographic, carbodiimide inactivation, Tris inhibition, and on substrate competition data. Thus, TG2 would hydrolyse alpha-1,6-galactosaccharides, exemplified by raffinose, whereas TG3 would act on melibiose and apparently also on digalactosyldiglyceride, the most important compound in the thylacoid membranes of chloroplasts. Most galactoside digestion should occur in the lumen of the first two thirds of T. molitor larval midguts, since alpha-galactosidase activity predominates there. Spodoptera frugiperda larvae have three midgut alpha-galactosidases (SG1, SG2, SG3) partially resolved by ion-exchange chromatography. The enzymes have similar pH optimum (5.8), pl value (7.2) and Mr value (46000-52000), and at least the major alpha-galactosidase must have an active carboxyl group in the active site. Based on data similar to those described for T. molitor, SG1 and SG3 should hydrolyse melibiose and SG3 should digest raffinose and, perhaps, also digalactosyldiglyceride. The midgut distribution of alpha-galactosidase activity supports the proposal that alpha-galactosidase digestion occurs at the surface of anterior midgut cells in Spodoptera frugiperda larvae.