The finding that thyrotropin-releasing hormone does not always act as a thyrotropin (TSH)-releasing factor in non-mammalian vertebrates has led researchers to believe that another hypothalamic factor may exhibit this function. In representatives of all non-mammalian vertebrate classes, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) appears to be a potent stimulator of hypophyseal TSH secretion, and might therefore function as a common regulator of both the thyroidal and adrenal/interrenal axes. CRH exerts its dual hypophysiotropic action through two different types of CRH receptors. Thyrotropes express type 2 CRH receptors, while CRH-induced corticotropin (ACTH) secretion is mediated by type 1 CRH receptors on the corticotropic pituitary cells. The stimulating effect of CRH on both TSH and ACTH release has profound consequences for the peripheral action of both hormonal axes. The simultaneous stimulation of the thyroidal and adrenal/interrenal axes by CRH, possibly fine-tuned by differential regulation of the expression of the different CRH receptor isoforms, provides a potential mechanism for developmental plasticity.