Abstract Animal species of various phyla possess neuroendocrine glands whose hormonal products regulate developmental and physiological mechanisms and directly impact behavior. Two examples, the corpora allata of insects and the vertebrate adenohypophysis have previously been regarded as analogous tissues that evolved independently from diffuse epidermal nerve nets of early metazoans. More recent developmental and functional studies accumulated evidence suggesting that the bilaterian nervous systems including its modern parts (e.g. pallium or cortex and mushroom bodies) and its neuroendocrine appendages (that are considered to be more ancient structures) possess a single evolutionary origin. The corpora allata of insects and the vertebrate adenohypophysis share a number of characteristics in respect of morphology, control of hormone release by RFamides, metabolites produced by closely related cytochrome P450 enzymes and gene expression during embryonic development. This review incorporates latest findings into an extensive description of similarities between insect corpora allata and vertebrate adenohypophysis that should encourage further studies about the onto- and phylogenetic origin of these neuroendocrine glands.