Ventilation is a crucial motor activity that provides organisms with an adequate circulation of respiratory gases. For animals that exist in harsh environments, an important goal is to protect ventilation under extreme conditions. Heat shock, anoxia, and cold shock are environmental stresses that have previously been shown to trigger protective responses. We used the locust to examine stress-induced thermotolerance by monitoring the ability of the central nervous system to generate ventilatory motor patterns during a subsequent heat exposure. Preparations from pre-stressed animals had an increased incidence of motor pattern recovery following heat-induced failure, however, prior stress did not alter the characteristics of the ventilatory motor pattern. During constant heat exposure at sub-lethal temperatures, we observed a protective effect of heat shock pre-treatment. Serotonin application had similar effects on motor patterns when compared to prior heat shock. These studies are consistent with previous studies that indicate prior exposure to extreme temperatures and hypoxia can protect neural operation against high temperature stress. They further suggest that the protective mechanism is a time-dependent process best revealed during prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures and is mediated by a neuromodulator such as serotonin.