Ecdysone 20-monooxygenase, an enzyme which converts ecdysone to ecdysterone (the major moulting hormone of insects) has been characterized in cell-free preparations of tissues from African migratory locust. The product of the reaction has been identified as ecdysterone on the basis of several microchemical derivatization and chromatographic methods. Ecdysone 20-monooxygenase activity is located primarily in the microsomal fraction which also carries NADPH cytochrome c reductase and cytochrome P-450, as shown by sucrose density gradient centrifugation. Optimal conditions for the ecdysone 20-monooxygenase assay have been determined. The enzyme has a Km for ecdysone of 2.7 x 10(-7) M and is competitvely inhibited by ecdysterone (Ki = 7.5 x 10(-7) M). Ecdysone 20-monooxygenase is a typical cytochrome P-450 linked monooxygenase: the reaction requires O2 and is inhibited by CO, an effect partially reversed by white light. The enzyme is effectively inhibited by several specific monooxygenase inhibitors and by sulfhydryl reagents, but not by cyanide ions. Ecdysone elicits a type I difference spectrum when added to oxidized microsomes. NADPH acts as preferential electron donor. The transfer of reducing equivalents proceeds through NADPH cytochrome c (P-450) reductase: ecdysone 20-monooxygenase is inhibited by cytochrome c. Both NADPH cytochrome c reductase and ecdysone 20-monooxygenase are inhibited by NADP+ and show a similar Km for NADPH. The Malpighian tubules have the highest specific activity of ecdysone 20-monooxygenase, while fat body contain most of the cytochrome P-450 and NADPH cytochrome c reductase.