Chironomus tentans cells were cultured in the presence of gradually increasing concentrations of 20-OH-ecdysone or a nonsteroidal molting hormone agonist, the benzoylhydrazine RH 5992, for a period of about 2 yr. From these cultures, subclones were selected, which are resistant to up to 25 microM 20-OH-ecdysone according to morphological (changes in cell shape and cell arrangement) and physiological criteria (acetylcholinesterase induction, secretion of chitinolytic enzymes, thymidine incorporation). Some subclones, selected in the presence of 20-OH-ecdysone, are resistant only to molting hormone, but still respond to RH 5992 morphologically and biochemically, whereas subclones selected in the presence of the benzoylhydrazine showed no reaction neither to 20-OH-ecdysone nor to the hormone agonist. Hormone resistance is stable; 3 mo. after hormone withdrawal, resistant clones still do not respond to renewed exposure to 20-OH-ecdysone or RH 5992, respectively. Because in all resistant subclones tested so far all hormonally regulated responses known from sensitive cells were no longer detectable, it is assumed that the hormone signaling pathway itself is interrupted. Possible mechanisms of hormone resistance were discussed.