Diapause is a programmed developmental arrest that has evolved in a wide variety of organisms and allows them survive unfavorable seasons. This developmental state is particularly common in insects. Based on circumstantial evidence, pupal diapause has been hypothesized to result from a cessation of prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) secretion from the brain. Here, we provide direct evidence for this classical hypothesis by determining both the PTTH titer in the hemolymph and the PTTH content in the brain of diapause pupae in the cabbage army moth Mamestra brassicae. For this purpose, we cloned the PTTH gene, produced PTTH-specific antibodies, and developed a highly sensitive immunoassay for PTTH. While the hemolymph PTTH titer in non-diapause pupae was maintained at high levels after pupation, the titer in diapause pupae dropped to an undetectable level. In contrast, the PTTH content of the post-pupation brain was higher in diapause animals than in non-diapause animals. These results clearly demonstrate that diapause pupae have sufficient PTTH in their brain, but they do not release it into the hemolymph. Injecting PTTH into diapause pupae immediately after pupation induced adult development, showing that a lack of PTTH is a necessary and sufficient condition for inducing pupal diapause. Most interestingly, in diapause-destined larvae, lower hemolymph titers of PTTH and reduced PTTH gene expression were observed for 4 and 2 days, respectively, prior to pupation. This discovery demonstrates that the diapause program is already manifested in the PTTH neurons as early as the mid final instar stage.