The spatial and temporal distribution of three peptides, DSK I, DSK II, and DSK 0, encoded by the Drosophila melanogaster drosulfakinin (Dsk) gene, have been examined in the central nervous system. DSK I and DSK II have a -RFamide C-terminus and are structurally similar to sulfakinin peptides; in contrast, DSK 0 contains -SFamide and is not structurally similar to sulfakinins. Antisera specificities were determined by the design of the antigens and confirmed by dot blot analysis and preincubation with peptides prior to their use in immunocytochemistry. The distribution of immunoreactivity suggests that all three DSK peptides are processed from the polypeptide precursor and expressed in many of the same cells. Expression was observed at all developmental stages with an increase in the level of staining and the number of immunoreactive cells as development progresses. Cells in the brain lobe, optic lobe, subesophageal ganglion, thoracic ganglia, and the eighth abdominal neuromere contain DSK-immunoreactive materials. Immunoreactive fibers project from some cells and extend into the brain and ventral ganglion with regions of extensive arborization. DSK 0 immunoreactivity provides initial evidence for the presence of a -SFamide peptide in neural tissue. The observed expression of DSK-immunoreactive materials throughout development in numerous cells of the central nervous system suggests that DSK peptides may serve as hormones, modulators, or transmitters involved in several functions.