Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is a 41-amino acid neuropeptide, which is recognized as a critical mediator of complimentary, stress-related endocrine, autonomic, and behavioral responses in mammalian species. CRF belongs to a family of structurally related peptides including frogskin sauvagine and fish urotensin I. The effects of CRF and related peptides are mediated by two distinct receptors, which differ in their anatomical distribution, as well as in their pharmacological characteristics. In addition, CRF is bound with high affinity by a CRF binding protein (CRF-BP), which is a putative inhibitor of CRF action. CRF is probably not the sole endogenous ligand for CRF receptors or the CRF-BP, since a second mammalian member of the CRF family, urocortin, has recently been identified. This article describes recent findings with respect to CRF, its receptors, binding protein, and CRF-related peptides, which provide further insights into the role and mechanisms of CRF action in stress responses.