The effect of a single blood meal on the host-seeking response of Anopheles gambiae was investigated in the laboratory using a behavioural bioassay, whereas possible changes at the chemosensory level were monitored using electroantennogram recording (EAG). To avoid the possible confounding effect of body size, mosquitoes of a large size class only were used. Five-day old female mosquitoes were given a blood meal on a human arm and exposed to the emanations of a human hand in an olfactometer at 3, 24, 40, 48 and 72 h following the meal and their behaviour and EAG response to host stimuli were compared with that of unfed mosquitoes (controls) of corresponding age. During egg development, mosquitoes had access to glucose and an oviposition tray. The ovarian development of blood-fed mosquitoes that responded to host odours was compared with that of blood-fed mosquitoes that had not been exposed to host odours. The EAG response of blood-fed and control mosquitoes to host odour was examined upon stimulation with air led over incubated human sweat, hexanoic acid, indole and geranyl acetone. EAGs were recorded at times after a blood meal corresponding with those used in the behavioural experiment. There was no host-seeking response at 3 and 24 h post blood meal (pbm). Seven percent of the mosquitoes responded to human emanations 40-h pbm, 27% at 48 h and 68% at 72 h following a blood meal. The average response of controls to host stimuli varied from 35 (at t=40 h) to 67%. There was no ovarian development in the unfed group of mosquitoes. Of the mosquitoes that responded to host odour 48 h pbm, 12.5% (n=5) had ovaries in Christophers' stage IV and the remainder in stage V. Of the mosquitoes that responded 72 h pbm, 66.7% (n=94) had ovaries in stage V and 31.2% (n=44) had recently oviposited. Maximum EAG amplitudes recorded from blood-fed and control mosquitoes were similar for mosquitoes in Christophers' stages I-III, whereas in stage IV EAG amplitudes recorded from the blood-fed group were significantly lower than those of the corresponding control group in response to headspace of incubated human sweat and to indole. The results show that there was a strong inhibition of host seeking in An. gambiae for a period of at least 40 h following a blood meal. Host-seeking returned to pre-blood meal levels 72-h post feeding and was associated with egg maturation. The inhibition of host-seeking behaviour was accompanied by an inhibition of olfactory sensitivity to headspace of incubated sweat and indole just before the resumption of the host-seeking response. The implications of these findings for mosquito surveillance with host odours are discussed.