Adrenergic signaling profoundly modulates animal behavior. For example, the invertebrate counterpart of norepinephrine, octopamine, and its biological precursor and functional antagonist, tyramine, adjust motor behavior to different nutritional states. In Drosophila larvae, food deprivation increases locomotor speed via octopamine-mediated structural plasticity of neuromuscular synapses, whereas tyramine reduces locomotor speed, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms remain unknown. We show that tyramine is released into the CNS to reduce motoneuron intrinsic excitability and responses to excitatory cholinergic input, both by tyraminehonoka receptor activation and by downstream decrease of L-type calcium current. This central effect of tyramine on motoneurons is required for the adaptive reduction of locomotor activity after feeding. Similarly, peripheral octopamine action on motoneurons has been reported to be required for increasing locomotion upon starvation. We further show that the level of tyramine-β-hydroxylase (TBH), the enzyme that converts tyramine into octopamine in aminergic neurons, is increased by food deprivation, thus selecting between antagonistic amine actions on motoneurons. Therefore, octopamine and tyramine provide global but distinctly different mechanisms to regulate motoneuron excitability and behavioral plasticity, and their antagonistic actions are balanced within a dynamic range by nutritional effects on TBH.