Chromafenozide (ANS-118) is a non-steroidal ecdysone mimic and its insecticidal effect is highly specific to lepidoptera. In order to evaluate the transcription-inducing activity via nuclear ecdysone receptor (EcR) and the mode of action of chromafenozide, ecdysone-responsive reporter gene assay systems were developed in Sf9 and Kc cells. Ponasterone A, a full EcR agonist, induced reporter transcription in a dose-dependent manner in both Sf9 and Kc cells. In contrast, chromafenozide activated reporter transcription with comparable potency to ponasterone A only in Sf9 cells, although its maximum activity was 4-fold lower than that of ponasterone A. When chromafenozide was applied together with ponasterone A to Sf9 cells, it antagonized ponasterone A at nanomolar concentrations. These results suggest that chromafenozide is a potent partial EcR agonist specific to lepidoptera; it appears to bind lepidopteran EcR with comparable affinity to ponasterone A, but may activate the EcR in a different manner.