Abstract Two new cell lines were established from larval and adult cockroach haemolymph. The cells show typical characteristics of plasmatocytes, but under different conditions of cultivation, they modulate from small dividing cells (prohaemocytes) to large storing cells (granulocytes, adipohaemocytes etc.). Consequently, the very confusing haemocyte nomenclature must be reconsidered taking into account the cell physiology. Biochemical analysis of the metabolized culture medium established bacteriolytic activity and chitinase secretion (two enzymes). Moreover, in the same medium we found a macromolecular factor inducing spermatogenesis in cultured germinal cysts of the Cynthia silkworm. All these characteristics of in vitro haemocytes are discussed to explain the involvement of blood cells in insect physiology and especially in immunity, gametogenesis, and ecdysis.