The activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis, becomes elevated in intact female Drosophila melanogaster shortly after adult eclosion. This activity reaches a peak at 24 h following eclosion, and then drops to lower levels by 48 h. This pattern is not observed in males, consistent with the hypothesis that polyamine synthesis is involved in ovarian maturation in Drosophila. Abdomens isolated within 2 h of adult eclosion do not display elevated ODC activity or ovarian maturation. However, a 250-ng dose of the juvenile hormone analog methoprene (ZR-515) applied in acetone to these abdomens, recovers ovarian maturation and causes a 5-10 fold increase in enzyme activity over controls treated with acetone alone. The same dose of the inactive precursor methyl farnesoate caused no such increase, whereas a 500-ng dose of the newly discovered natural Drosophila JHB3 stimulated a four-fold response. The response to methoprene was dose-dependent, showing stimulatory activity at a dose as low as 10 ng. This stimulation by JHA is rapid, occurring between 1 and 3 h following hormone treatment, reminiscent of JH induction of fat body vitellogenin synthesis in Drosophila. Elevated ODC activity appeared to be localized in the adult fat body. During embryogenesis, ODC activity remained undetectable until just prior to hatching, when a large increase was detected. We postulate that JH may, either directly or indirectly, regulate polyamine biosynthesis in vivo, and that this synthesis may be required for the production of macromolecules during Drosophila vitellogenesis or embryogenesis.