Mushroom bodies, which are the main integrative centre for insect sensorial information, play a critical role in associative olfactory learning and memory. This paired brain structure contains interneurons grouped in a cortex, sending their axons into organized neuropiles. In the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) brain, persistent neuroblasts proliferate throughout adult life. Juvenile hormone (JH) has been shown to stimulate this proliferation [Cayre, M., Strambi, C. & Strambi, A. (1994) Nature, 368, 57–59]. In the present study, the effect of morphogenetic hormones on mushroom body cells maintained in primary culture was examined. Whereas JH did not significantly affect neurite growth, ecdysone significantly stimulated neurite elongation. Moreover, ecdysone also acted on neuroblast proliferation, as demonstrated by the reduced number of cells labelled with 5-bromodeoxyuridine following ecdysone application. Heterospecific antibodies raised against ecdysone receptor protein and ultraspiracle protein, the two heterodimers of ecdysteroid receptors, showed positive immunoreactivity in nervous tissue extracts and in nuclei of mushroom body cells, indicating the occurrence of putative ecdysteroid receptors in cricket mushroom body cells. These data indicate a dual role for ecdysone in adult cricket mushroom bodies: this hormone inhibits neuroblast proliferation and stimulates interneuron differentiation. These results suggest that a constant remodelling of mushroom body structure could result from physiological changes in hormone titres during adult life.