Defensins are cysteine-rich peptides involved in the innate immunity of insects and many other organisms. In the present study, two novel defensin-encoding cDNAs and the respective genomic DNAs (def3 and def4) of Triatoma brasiliensis were identified and their tissue-specific and temporal expression was characterized. Both of the deduced mature peptides consisted of 43 amino acid residues and were highly similar to previously identified triatomine defensins (81.4-100%). Semi-quantitative RT-PCR data showed that def3 was constitutively expressed in the fat body and was induced in salivary glands and the small intestine at 5 and 3 days after feeding (daf), respectively. The def4 mRNA level was highly up-regulated in the stomach and fat-body tissues at 5 and 3 daf, respectively. The three-dimensional structures of these defensins were predicted using a homology modeling approach with Def-AAA, the defensin from Anopheles gambiae, as template (62-74% identity). A map of the electrostatic potential of these models revealed that, despite their similar folding patterns, mature Def2 and Def4 have a more cationic structure than is the case for Def1 and Def3. Such differences may orient the antimicrobial profile of these defensins against distinct targets in different organs of the insect.