A mathematical model of perireceptor and receptor events has been developed for olfactory sensilla on the antennae of the moth Antheraea polyphemus. The model includes the adsorptive uptake of pheromone molecules by the olfactory hair, their transport on and within the hair by diffusion, the formation of a complex of pheromone and the extracellular pheromone-binding protein (PBP), the interaction of the complex pheromone-PBP with the hypothetical receptor molecule on the plasma membrane of the olfactory cell, the deactivation of the pheromone and, finally, its enzymatic degradation. In the model the PBP with its reduced form (with one or two intramolecular disulfide bonds) first acts as a carrier of the odorant. Later, while the pheromone is bound, it changes to an oxidized form (three disulfide bonds) with a scavenger function (carrier-to-scavenger model). This process of pheromone deactivation rather than the enzymatic pheromone degradation is responsible for the fall of the receptor potential after stimulus offset. The model is based on morphometrical, radiometrical, electrophysiological and biochemical data reported by several authors. The study supports the idea that peripheral events rather than intracellular signalling processes govern the kinetics of the receptor potential in the unadapted receptor cell.