The larvae of Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) grown at 25 degrees C and long photoperiod (16:8h light:dark) pupate in the 5th or 6th (mostly) larval instar, while the larvae reared under a short photoperiod (12:12h) enter diapause during which they consume some food and undergo up to 12 (usually 3-4) stationary larval molts. Diapause programming includes an increase of juvenile hormone (JH) titer in the hemolymph from about 20 to 50 nM in the 4th and 5th instar larvae (titer in earlier instars was not measured). JH I, II, and III are present in approximate ratio 1-2:10:1. The JH titer drops to zero before pupation but remains around 20 nM during diapause. Perfect extra larval molts associated with a body weight increase can be induced in the non-diapausing larvae with a JH analogue (JHA). The weight rise is due to accumulation of reserves and not to a general body growth. The timing of extra molts is similar to the molting pattern of the diapausing larvae only when JHA is present since early larval instars. In the diapausing larvae, JHA application affects neither molting periodicity nor the body weight. It is concluded that (1) Increased JH titer in early larval instars is a part of diapause programming; (2) The extension of larval stage in the diapausing larvae, but not the timing pattern of extra molts, is due to continuously high JH titer; (3) The diapause program includes low food intake, maintenance of a certain body weight, and periodic larval molts.