Bean pyralid (BP; Lamprosema indicata Fabricius) is one of the major leaf-feeding insects that affect soybean crops in central and southern China. Four recombinant inbred line populations (KY, WT, XG and SX) were tested during 2004-2006 in Nanjing, China, to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance to BP on the basis of data for rolled leaflet percentage under field infestation conditions. The mapping was performed using QTL Network V2.0 and checked with Windows QTL Cartographer V2.5 and IciMapping V2.2. The results showed that 81-92 % of the phenotypic variation was accounted for by additive QTL (27-43 %), epistatic QTL pairs (5-13 %), and collective unmapped minor QTL (38-58 %). In total, 17 QTL were detected on 11 linkage groups, of which two had additive effects, six had both additive and epistatic effects, and nine had only epistatic effects. Eight epistatic QTL pairs were observed, of which three pairs involved two QTL with additive effects, one involved one QTL with additive effect, and four involved no QTL with additive effects. Different genetic structures for BP resistance were found among the populations. Eight QTL (five additive and three epistatic pairs) were detected in KY, ten QTL (four additive and five epistatic pairs) were detected in WT, and only one additive QTL was detected in both the XG and the SX populations. BP12-1 and BP1-1 are major QTL, with the former accounting for 15, 31, and 50 % of the total genetic variation (including epistasis) in KY, WT, and XG, respectively, and the latter accounting for 13 and 32 % of the total genetic variation in KY and SX, respectively. The additive × year and epistasis × year interaction effects were negligible, indicating that the QTL were stable over the years. Because 41-68 % of the total genetic variation could not be accounted for by these QTL, the use of both identified QTL and unmapped minor QTL in breeding for BP resistance should be considered.