Abstract The yolk-protein genes of Drosophila are expressed in the ovarian follicle cells and fat bodies of adult females. Adults must relate egg production to environmental conditions, thus the regulation of these genes in the fat body is complex and their expression is modulated by the sex determination hierarchy, the hormones ecdysone and juvenile hormone, and the nutritional status of the fly. In some insects the ovary also affects the level of yolk-protein synthesis in the fat body. In this paper we show that the presence of a vitellogenic ovary has little effect on levels of yolk-protein synthesis in the fat body, though there are fewer yolk-protein transcripts in “ovaryless” Drosophila females. The nutritional effect acts rapidly to stop yolk-protein uptake and then reduces yolk-protein transcript levels. The fat body of starved females develops normally and is unlikely to account for differences in yolk-protein transcript levels. We show here that the nutritional effect on the fat body is not mediated by a developing ovary. Thus, it seems that we must look for a signal from the gut, which acts on both the ovary and the fat body or a signal which activates the release of hormone, but not ecdysone or juvenile hormone, which can rapidly affect these two tissues.