Peritrophic membranes (PMs) are an invertebrate-unique structure that lines the digestive tract, playing important roles in facilitating food digestion and providing protection to the gut epithelium. The importance of PMs in insects has been recognized ever since its presence was identified 200 years ago. In the last 5 years, significant progress towards understanding the PM molecular structure and the mechanism for PM formation has been made. Recent studies on Type 1 PMs from lepidopteran larvae have suggested a model for the PM molecular structure and formation. The important physiological functions of the PM suggest that PMs can be a significant structural target for insect control and the current understanding of the structure of lepidopteran larval PMs has provided us with potential opportunities for targeting the PM by various mechanisms. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 47:110–118, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.