In order to determine the frequency of therapeutic failures to chloroquine (CQ) in patients with malaria due to either Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax, and to explore the usefulness of a malaria-free city as a sentinel site to monitor the emergence of drug resistance, 53 patients (44 infected with P. vivax and 9 with P. falciparum) were evaluated at the Laboratory of Parasitology, Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. Patients received 25 mg/kg of CQ divided in three doses over 48 h; they were followed during 28 days according to WHO/PAHO protocols. While therapeutic failures to CQ in the P. vivax group were not detected, the proportion of therapeutic failures in the P. falciparum group was high (78%) and consistent with the reports from endemic areas in Colombia. The diverse origin of cases presenting therapeutic failure confirmed that P. falciparum resistant to CQ is widespread in Colombia, and further supports the change in the national antimalarial drug scheme. Monitoring of drug resistance in malaria free areas would be useful to identify sites requiring efficacy evaluation, and in some situations could be the most appropriate alternative to collect information from endemic areas where therapeutic efficacy studies are not feasible.