The effects of 2-(4-Morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one (LY294002), an inhibitor of mammalian phosphatidylinositol 3-OH kinase, was tested on an insulin signaling-like pathway in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Populations of C. elegans were treated with LY294002 at different stages of the life cycle, and its effects on development, thermotolerance and longevity were assessed. At concentrations of 160 microM and above, LY294002 significantly induced both dauer formation and thermotolerance. Treatment of adult worms also resulted in a small, but significant, increase in life span. The results presented are consistent with the view that a neuroendocrine signaling pathway functions in adult worms to determine stress resistance and longevity.