This review follows progress in the analysis of cyclodiene insecticide resistance from the initial isolation of the mutant, through cloning of the resistance gene, to an examination of the distribution of resistance alleles in natural populations. Emphasis is given to the use of a resistant Drosophila mutant as an entry point to cloning the associated gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor subunit gene, Resistance to dieldrin. Resistance is associated with replacements of a single amino acid (alanine302) in the chloride ion channel pore of the protein. Replacements of alanine302 not only directly affect the drug binding site but also allosterically destabilize the drug preferred conformation of the receptor. Resistance is thus conferred by a unique dual mechanism associated with alanine302, which is the only residue replaced in a wide range of different resistant insects. The underlying mutations appear either to have arisen once, or multiply, depending on the population biology of the pest insect. Although resistance frequencies decline in the absence of selection, resistance alleles can persist at relatively high frequency and may cause problems for compounds to which cross-resistance is observed, such as the novel fipronils.