Hormesis induced by insecticides at the dosage lower than what ostensibly directly causes death on insects was studied. This paper reports the effects of the in vivo application of varied concentrations of chlorpyrifos (CPF) on Plutella xylostella (DBM). The insecticide concentrations applied included 0.000025–2.5 mg l−1, which are far lower than LC1 (7.2 mg l−1), for the CPF-susceptable (Si) DBM, and 250 mg l−1 which is far below LC1 (1286 mg l−1), for the CPF-resistant (Rc) DBM, as well as LC10- and LC50-doses for both strains. Significant hormesis was found with the ‘hermetic-CPFs’, i.e., 0.0025 mg l−1 for Si DBM and 2.5 mg l−1 for Rc DBM, at the normal or high temperature either in a 24 h or under a long-term treatment. These doses of CPF significantly stimulated the development and increased the fecundity of Si and Rc DBM at 25°C with approximately 23.5–29.8% activity increase on acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and 30.5–91.3% increase on glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) at 25 or 38°C in 4–24 h. The enzymatic activities were significantly reduced by LC50-CPF at 25°C in vivo, but the inhibition was relieved significantly, if the insects were first subjected to a hormetic-CPF pretreatment. It was remarkable that the average rates of enzymatic activity increase were 67.5–76.6% for AChE and 366–546% for GSTs. Consequently, it was concluded that the hormesis on Si and Rc DBM could be induced by CPF doses far below LC1 at normal or high temperature in short- or long-term treatment. These findings might help to improve the current insect control practices in the field.