Behavioural responses of Drosophila melanogaster larvae were measured in response to olfactory stimulation with an homologous series of eight aliphatic n-acetates (methyl ... octyl acetate) and with cis-vaccenyl acetate. Larvae tended to be attracted to short-chain acetates (methyl ... pentyl) and repelled by longer chain acetates (hexyl, heptyl and octyl acetate). All larvae were strongly attracted to propyl acetate, irrespective of the dose studied. Larval olfactory responses generally declined with age. Two geographical strains showed specific anosmias. Katsunuma (Japan) larvae showed no response to hexyl acetate; chromosome substitution showed this behaviour to be controlled by genes on chromosome II. Tai (Ivory Coast) larvae showed no response to pentyl acetate; chromosome substitution showed that two genetic factors were primarily involved, on the X chromosome and chromosome III. The response was modulated by chromosome II. No effect of the Y chromosome was found. Two olfactory mutants were studied, olfC (X chromosome) and Indf (chromosome III); both mutants showed abnormal responses to certain acetates. The results are discussed in terms of various models of olfactory processing and the implications of these models for the number of genes involved in olfaction.