Abstract The ability of recombinant prothoracicotropic hormone (rPTTH) or crude brain extract (cBRAIN) of Bombyx mori to stimulate ecdysteroid secretion from prothoracic glands (PGs) was investigated throughout the fifth instar and the first day of the pupal stage. Crude brain extracts could stimulate much higher ecdysteroid secretion than rPTTH during a 2 h incubation. Recombinant PTTH did not increase the level of glandular cyclic AMP, except on days 4 and 5 of the fifth instar. Glandular cAMP levels were increased by cBRAIN from day 0 until day 5 of the fifth instar with the highest increase on day 3. On this day, rPTTH could not stimulate any increase of ecdysteroid secretion from the PGs during a 30 min incubation. On the contrary, PGs incubated with cBRAIN for 30 min showed increased secretory activity. Furthermore, on day 3 and in the absence of extracellular Ca 2+, rPTTH did not increase the glandular cAMP levels but cBRAIN did. Recombinant PTTH-stimulated ecdysteroid secretion from day 3 PGs was dependent on extracellular Ca 2+ in a dose-dependent manner. However, cBRAIN could stimulate ecdysteroid secretion even in the absence of extracellular Ca 2+. Taken together, the results of these experiments suggest the presence of a previously unknown cerebral prothoracicotropic factor that can stimulate glandular cAMP levels and ecdysteroid secretion from the PGs of Bombyx mori.