The taxonomy, distribution, life history, and host plant relationships of the cochylid moth Agapeta zoegana (L.), an oligophagous, facultatively multivoltine root feeder, are discussed. The results of oviposition and larval feeding tests with 56 plant species in five families are presented and show that A. zoegana is restricted to a few closely related species of Centaurea. In Europe the moth is widely distributed and abundant in the majority of the root-feeding guilds of Centaurea maculosa Monnet de la Marck studied, with densities of 23.6 larvae per 100 roots in eastern Austria/northwestern Hungary and less than 8 larvae per 100 roots in central Hungary and the Alsace. The acceptance of target North American species (the tetraploid form of C. maculosa and the diploid Centaurea diffusa Monnet de la Marck), the damage caused, and the active searching ability rate A. zoegana as a potentially effective natural enemy of spotted and diffuse knapweed in North America. Agapeta zoegana will be especially promising as it predominantly attacks the rosette, which is, according to a recently developed population model for diffuse knapweed in Canada, the most sensitive stage determining equilibrium knapweed density. Agapeta zoegana is compatible with Pelochrista medullana Staudinger (Lepidoptera: Cochylidae), another knapweed root feeder recently introduced into North America, and will complement the seed-feeding species already established. The moth was approved for release in Canada and the USA and has been established in British Columbia since 1984 on C. diffusa.