Experiments were conducted to observe the feeding and food selection-behaviour of different instars of the pod-borer Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) in response to choices between the cultivated and a wild species of Cajanus. First and second instars fed upon a cultivated variety of Cajanus cajan in preference to a wild species, C. scarabaeoides and on flowers of C. cajan, rather than pods or leaves of C. cajan. First and second instars preferred pods of C. scarabaeoides with trichomes removed to pods with trichomes present. All instars fed upon pods of C. cajan rather than those of C. scarabaeoides. Solvent extraction of the pod surfaces affected the feeding of larvae, in some instances. They preferred the unextracted pods of C. cajan; the extracted pod of C. scarabaeoides (first and second instars) or the unextracted pod of C. scarabaeoides (fourth and fifth instars). Glass-fibre disc bioassays showed that the methanol, hexane and water extracts from the pod-surface of C. cajan stimulated the feeding of fifth instars. The experiments have shown that characteristics of C. cajan, such as either the compounds present or the type and distribution of trichomes on the plant surfaces, can determine the susceptibility of C. cajan to pod-borer larvae.