The Eyguieres 42 strain of Drosophila simulans, obtained by laboratory selection, displayed approximately 20,000-fold resistance to the insecticide fipronil. Molecular cloning of the cDNA encoding the RDL GABA receptor subunit of this strain revealed the presence of two mutations: the Rdl mutation (A301G) and an additional mutation in the third transmembrane domain (T350M). In order to assess the individual and combined roles of the two mutations in fipronil resistance, the functional properties of wild-type, A301G, T350M and A301G/T350M homomultimeric RDL receptors were compared by expression in Xenopus oocytes. In wild-type receptors, the inhibition of GABA (EC(30))-induced currents by fipronil and picrotoxin was enhanced by repeated GABA applications. The A301G mutation nearly abolished this effect, decreased the sensitivity to fipronil and picrotoxin and increased the reversibility of inhibition. The T350M mutation also reduced the sensitivity to both antagonists. Of the four receptor variants tested, the double mutant showed the highest resistance to fipronil, following repeated GABA applications. In conclusion, the present study emphasizes new aspects of the pharmacological alterations induced by the Rdl mutation and shows that resistance to GABA receptor-directed insecticides may implicate a mutation distinct from Rdl.