The corpus cardiacum (CC) and corpus allatum (CA) of the locust, Locusta migratoria, contain intense proctolin-like immunoreactivity (PLI) within processes and varicosities. In contrast, in the cockroach, Diploptera punctata, although a similar staining pattern occurs within the CC, PLI appears absent within the CA. The possible role of proctolin as a releasing factor for adipokinetic hormone (AKH) and juvenile hormone (JH) was investigated in the locust. Proctolin caused a dose-dependent increase in AKH I release (determined by RP-HPLC) from the locust CC over a range of doses with threshold above 10(-8)M and maximal release at about 10(-7)M proctolin. Isolated glandular lobes of the CC released greater amounts of AKH I following treatment with proctolin and in these studies AKH II was also released. Confirmation of AKH I release was obtained by injecting perfusate from incubated CCs into locusts and measuring hemolymph lipid concentration. Perfusate from CC incubated in proctolin contained material with similar biological activity to AKH. Proctolin was also found to significantly increase the synthesis and release of JH from locust CA, with the increase being greatest from CAs that had a relatively low basal rate of JH biosynthesis (<35 pmol h(-1) per CA). In contrast, proctolin did not alter the synthesis and release of JH from the cockroach CA. These results suggest that proctolin may act as a releasing factor for AKHs and JH in the locust but does not act as a releasing factor for JH in the cockroach.