Amplification of the esterase B1 gene is responsible for insecticide resistance in the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus. We used a mating scheme to isolate chromosomes carrying amplified esterase genes from a long-selected laboratory strain (Tem-R) to determine whether observed variation in esterase activity had a genetic basis. The amplified esterase genes segregated as a block and a possible newly arisen esterase B1 copy-number variant was found among the progeny of females which carried amplified B1 genes on only one homologue. A quantitative genetic analysis found significant genetic variation of esterase activity among families which carried different amplification-bearing chromosomes from the Tem-R strain. Esterase B1 copy-number variation among these Tem-R chromosomes is the most likely basis for the observed genetic variation in esterase activity.