In the mollusc Lymnaea stagnalis, neuroendocrine caudodorsal cells (CDCs) were studied physiologically and morphologically from egg layers (EL) (aged 154-400), and animals 4 weeks (CEL-4) (342-455 days), and 8 weeks (CEL-8) (477-660 days) after production of their last egg mass. After recording chemical transmission, electrical coupling and stimulation induced afterdischarges (ADs), CDCs then were filled with Lucifer Yellow. Based on the axonal branching revealed by Lucifer Yellow, CDCs were classified as extensively, moderately, or minimally branched. In EL-CDCs, induction of AD activity, which normally (9) precedes egg-laying, only was initiated in the resting state. CEL-4 CDCs exhibited ADs whereas CEL-8 CDCs did not. CEL-8 CDCs exhibited significantly reduced chemical and electrical transmission, and CEL-4 CDCs did not differ from resting state EL-CDCs. CDC branching was significantly reduced with both increasing age and declining egg-laying. Minimally branched CDCs most frequently failed to exhibit an AD and exhibited reduced electrical coupling. We conclude that both physiology and morphology of CDCs are related to age and reproductive state. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.