The role of nest-paper hydrocarbons in nestmate recognition was examined in the social wasp Dolichovespula maculata. Pupae were excised from nine colonies of D. maculata and placed in separate gel capsules in the laboratory. When workers emerged, they were isolated in the absence of other wasps in one of four conditions: 1. With an untreated fragment of their natal nest; 2. With a fragment of their nest that had been extracted with hexane to remove surface hydrocarbons; 3. With a fragment of their nest that had been extracted with hexane, and had then had the extract containing the surface hydrocarbons reapplied; or 4. In the absence of any nest fragment. After 4 d, the newly emerged workers were tested for nestmate recognition with an experienced nestmate and an experienced non-nestmate in blind triplet tests. Prior exposure to nest-paper hydrocarbons had no significant effect upon the ability of newly emerged or experienced wasps to recognize their nestmates. Moreover, nestmate recognition did not occur in any treatment group.