Mating elicits two well-defined reactions in sexually matured females of many insects: reduction of receptivity and increased oviposition. These post-mating responses have been shown to be induced by factors synthesized in the reproductive tract of the adult male and transferred in the seminal fluid to the female during copulation. One of these factors, named sex-peptide (SP), has been identified in Drosophila melanogaster. Using an in vitro radiochemical assay, we show that synthetic sex-peptide considerably activates juvenile hormone III-bisepoxide (JHB3) synthesis in corpus allatum (CA) excised from Days 3 and 4 post-eclosion virgin females. Base levels are significantly lower at emergence (Day 0) than on subsequent days, and only weak stimulation is obtained on Day 1, while none is obtained on Day 2, where maximal basal synthesis occurs. The CA of mated females cannot be stimulated further for at least 7 days, but regain responsiveness by Day 10 after mating. Synthesis of JHB3 stimulated by SP in vitro persists for at least 4 h after removal of the peptide. Development of responsiveness of the CA to SP in vitro is compared with development of the post-mating reactions of sex-peptide injected virgin females. Our results suggest that the CA is a direct target for SP in vivo and that sexual maturity is established separately for the two post-mating reactions.