The steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) initiates insect molting and metamorphosis through binding with a heterodimer of two nuclear receptors, the ecdysone receptor (EcR) and ultraspiracle (USP). Expression of the specific isoforms EcR-A and EcR-B1 governs steroid-induced responses in the developing cells of the silkworm Bombyx mori. Here, analysis of EcR-A and EcR-B1 expression during larval-pupal development showed that both genes were up-regulated by 20E in the B. mori brain. Whole-mount in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry revealed that EcR-A and EcR-B1 mRNAs and proteins were exclusively located in two pairs of lateral neurosecretory cells in the larval brain known as the prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH)- producing cells (PTPCs). In the pupal brain, EcR-A and EcR-B1 expression was detected in tritocerebral cells and optic lobe cells in addition to PTPCs. As PTTH controls ecdysone secretion by the prothoracic gland, these results indicate that 20E-responsive PTPCs are the master cells of insect metamorphosis.