The timing and spatial distribution of cells containing FMRFamide- and 5-HT-related molecules in the embryonic development of the mollusc Viviparus ater are examined using immunohistochemistry. FMRFamide-like molecules emerge in the early stage E8 (8% of embryonic development) before the 5-HT immunoreactivity, and they are not only found during nervous system ontogeny. As the parts of the digestive tract differentiated, the pattern of the diffuse gut endocrine cells, present in adults, start to be established (E20-E30), and both open and closed cell types are immunoreactive to anti-FMRFamide antibody. From their appearance (E20), cells with a 5-HT-like phenotype are distributed in the central nervous ganglia and progressively assembled during embryonic development. The early occurrence of both these molecules in V. ater embryos reinforces the growing view that neurotransmitters play a regulatory role in embryogenic processes. In particular, the very early presence of FMRFamide-related factors suggests an involvement of these molecules in the regulation of basic, not only neuronal, cell behaviours, while 5-HT seems to be a more specific neural development signal.