An antiserum against the cockroach neuropeptide leucokinin I (LKI) was used to study peptidergic neurons and their innervation patterns in larvae and adults of three species of higher dipteran insects, the flies Drosophila melanogaster, Calliphora vomitoria, and Phormia terraenovae, as well as larvae of a primitive dipteran insect, the crane fly Phalacrocera replicata. In the larvae of the higher dipteran flies, the antiserum revealed three pairs of cells in the brain, three pairs of ventro-medial cells in the subesophageal ganglion, and seven pairs of ventro-lateral cells in the abdominal ganglia. Each of these 14 abdominal leucokinin-immunoreactive (LKIR) neurons innervates a single muscle of the abdominal body wall (muscle 8), which is known to degenerate shortly after adult emergence. Conventional electron microscopy demonstrates that this muscle is innervated by at least one axon containing clear vesicles and two axons containing dense-cored vesicles. Electron-microscopical immunocytochemistry shows that the LKIR axon is one of these two axons with dense-cored vesicles and that it forms terminals on the sarcolemma of its target muscle. The abdominal LKIR neurons appear to survive metamorphosis. In the adult fly, the efferent abdominal LKIR neurons innervate the spiracles, the heart, and neurohemal regions of the abdominal wall. In the crane fly larva, dorso-medial and ventrolateral LKIR cell bodies are located in both thoracic and abdominal ganglia of the ventral nerve cord. As in the larvae of the other flies, the abdominal ventrolateral LKIR neurons form efferent axons. However, in the crane fly larva there are two pairs of efferent LKIR neurons in each of the abdominal ganglia and their peripheral targets include neurohemal regions of the dorsal transverse nerves. An additional difference is that in the crane fly, a caudal pair of LKIR axons originating from the penultimate pair of dorso-median LKIR cells in the terminal ganglion innervate the hind-gut.