The adaptive response of Drosophila larvae to three alkylating agents (ethyl methanesulfonate, methyl methanesulfonate and N-nitroso-N-ethylurea) has been studied in the wing spot test. The experimental procedure included a 24 h pretreatment of 2-day-old larvae with two different adaptive doses followed by a challenge dose applied until the end of development. The genotoxic effects were analysed in trans-heterozygous larvae for the third chromosome recessive markers multiple wing hairs (mwh) and Bare (flr(3)), Genetic changes induced in somatic cells of the wing imaginal discs led to loss of heterozygosity, expressed as mutant clones of the genetic markers used. From our results it appears that the adaptive doses clearly reduce the frequency of mutant clones induced by the challenge dose. As far as we know, this is the first time that the existence of an adaptive response to alkylating agents after Drosophila larval treatment has been reported using the wing spot assay.