In mammals, the release of pituitary ACTH is stimulated by CRF. Two related peptides exist in nonmammalian vertebrates, sauvagine from frog skin and urotensin-I from the urophysis of teleost fish. Their related structures (approximately 50%) and capacity to stimulate the release of ACTH from mammalian and fish pituitaries has led to the proposal that sauvagine and urotensin-I are homologs of mammalian CRF. However, sauvagine does not appear to stimulate ACTH release in amphibians, although mammalian CRF (ovine) induces a potent response from amphibian pituitaries. This could indicate that the main function of sauvagine does not involve ACTH regulation and suggests that an additional CRF-like peptide exists in Amphibia. We report here the isolation of two highly homologous CRF-like genes from the frog, Xenopus laevis. Analysis of the expression pattern of these CRF-like genes revealed mRNA in splenic tissue and in the preoptic nucleus and paraventricular organ of the brain. The amino acid sequence of the mature peptide regions (1-41) of both X. laevis genes is strikingly conserved, sharing more than 93% homology with mammalian CRFs, yet only 50% homology with sauvagine. In view of the fact that these new amphibian CRF-like genes share far greater homology with mammalian CRF than that exhibited by sauvagine, we propose that the new Xenopus CRF-like genes are the amphibian counterparts to mammalian CRF. Thus, two members of the CRF family have now been identified in the Amphibia, namely CRF and sauvagine.