In fish, the catecholamine hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are released into the circulation, from chromaffin cells, during numerous 'stressful' situations. The physiological and biochemical actions of these hormones (the efferent adrenergic response) have been the focus of numerous investigations over the past several decades. However, until recently, few studies have examined aspects involved in controlling/modulating catecholamine storage and release in fish. This review provides a detailed account of the afferent limb of the adrenergic response in fish, from the biosynthesis of catecholamines to the exocytotic release of these hormones from the chromaffin cells. The emphasis is on three particular topics: (1) catecholamine biosynthesis and storage within the chromaffin cells including the different types of chromaffin cells and their varying arrangement amongst species; (2) situations eliciting the secretion of catecholamines (e.g. hypoxia, hypercapnia, chasing); (3) cholinergic and non-cholinergic (i.e. serotonin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, angiotensin, adenosine) control of catecholamine secretion. As such, this review will demonstrate that the control of catecholamine storage and release in fish chromaffin cells is a complex processes involving regulation via numerous hormones, neurotransmitters and second messenger systems.