An antifeeding (feeding deterrent) response by first- and fifth-instar larvae of Pieris brassicae was shown to be significant at sub-lethal levels of cypermethrin and permethrin, using leaf-discs treated with the pyrethroids by dipping. Permethrin was slightly more effective than cypermethrin both as an insecticide and as an antifeedant against fifth-instar larvae, but the reverse order of effectiveness was observed, with a marked difference in mortality, against newly-hatched larvae. When 1-day-old fifth-instar larvae were continuously given leaf discs treated with a solution of the pyrethroid (1 mg litre−1), up to the time of pupation, both cypermethrin and permethrin induced a significant extension of the larval period, with a reduction in the maximum larval and pupal weights, as well as a reduction in the total leaf-area consumed. However, at higher levels of both pyrethroids, lowering the temperature induced some irritancy, as indicated by regurgitation and frequent uncoordinated wriggling movements of the fifth-instar larvae. The advantages of cypermethrin as a protectant and as an antifeedant over permethrin are discussed.