ABSTRACT The sugarcane spittlebug, Mahanarva fimbriolata (Walker) (Hemiptera: Cercopidae) is an economically important pest of sugarcane in Brazil. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a greenhouse methodology to screen large sugarcane populations for resistance to spittlebug Mahanarva fimbriolata. A resistant and a susceptible genotype (H. Kawandang and SP81-3250) were first used to determine adequate days after infestation and levels of infestation (number of nymphs per plant) for comparing the resistance of genotypes. Then, 74 sugarcane genotypes including three susceptible and three resistant controls were screened for resistance. The screening method consists in infesting single-tiller plants supported in a small plant growth unit and assessing the damage by using a 1-5 visual damage score. Our data suggest screening with four to six nymphs per plant and the damage score assessment at least 21 days after infestation. The screening technique was proved reliable as susceptible and resistant controls were placed in their respective resistance category. Three genotypes were classified as resistant while the majority of genotypes were classified as susceptible to spittlebug, indicating the need of breeding for resistance.