We selected on knockdown temperature, the upper temperature at which insects lose the ability to cling to an inclined surface, in replicate populations of Drosophila melanogaster for 32 generations (46 generations of rearing). Knockdown temperature (Tkd) was initially bimodally distributed in both control and selected lines, and a similar pattern was found in several populations surveyed from two other continents. Within 20 generations of selection, the Up-selected lines (top 25% each generation) had lost the lower mode and the Low-selected lines (selected to fall out at approximately 37 degrees C) had largely lost the upper mode. The realized heritability of Tkd computed over the first 10 selection episodes was approximately 0.12 in the Up-selected and approximately 0.19 in the Low-selected lines. Realized heritability rose dramatically in the Low-selected lines over the first 20 generations of selection. The two modes, plus this rise in heritability, suggest that knockdown temperature is the product of one or two genes of large effect. The global polymorphism for knockdown temperature, coupled with the ease of selective removal of either mode, suggests that genetic variation for knockdown temperature may be maintained by natural selection.