The relationship between parasite development and sensitivity to irradiation with X-rays was investigated during a single synchronous cycle of Plasmodium falciparum in culture. The sensitivity of the parasites to irradiation was closely correlated with the phases of DNA synthesis. Their sensitivity was greatest at the ring stage in development, but decreased at the trophozoite stage when DNA synthesis begins. Lowest sensitivity was found when DNA synthesis was most rapid as the parasites were transforming from late trophozoite to schizont forms. These findings suggest that DNA is the target of the lethal radiation damage in the parasites.