The opioid/orphanin gene family provides a model system for analyzing the outcomes of genome duplication events. Recent studies on the proenkephalin gene provide additional evidence that the organizational plan for this gene has been conserved throughout the extensive radiation of the gnathostome vertebrates. However, an analysis of the amino acid sequence of proenkephalin from the zebrafish, Danio rerio, suggests that novel forms of this opioid precursor may be evolving in teleosts. Analyses of sarcopterygian prodynorphin sequences revealed a proenkephalin signature in prodynorphin. Current studies on the opioid/orphanin gene family point to the duplication events that shaped this family occurring prior to the radiation of the gnathostomes.