Steroid hormones control various aspects of brain development and behavior in metazoans, but how they enter the central nervous system (CNS) through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains poorly understood. It is generally believed that steroid hormones freely diffuse through the plasma membrane of the BBB cells to reach the brain 1, because of the predominant "simple diffusion" model of steroid hormone transport across cell membranes. Recently, however, we challenged the simple diffusion model by showing that a Drosophila organic anion-transporting polypeptide (OATP), which we named Ecdysone Importer (EcI), is required for cellular uptake of the primary insect steroid hormone ecdysone 2. As ecdysone is first secreted into the hemolymph before reaching the CNS 3, our finding raised the question of how ecdysone enters the CNS through the BBB to exert its diverse role in Drosophila brain development. Here, we demonstrate in the Drosophila BBB that EcI is indispensable for ecdysone entry into the CNS to facilitate brain development. EcI is highly expressed in surface glial cells that form the BBB, and EcI knockdown in the BBB suppresses ecdysone signaling within the CNS and blocks ecdysone-mediated neuronal events during development. In an ex vivo culture system, the CNS requires EcI in the BBB to incorporate ecdysone from the culture medium. Our results suggest a transporter-mediated mechanism of steroid hormone entry into the CNS, which may provide important implications in controlling brain development and behavior by regulating steroid hormone permeability across the BBB.