The 5-(n)-alkylresorcinol fraction of the epicuticular waxes of Hordeum vulgare seeds appeared to be responsible for their in-born resistance to pathogenic fungi such as Aspergillus niger and Penicillium crysogenum. The antifungal properties of this fraction were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively with a novel bioassay where the extreme lipophilicity of these compounds was taken into account. The minimum inhibitory concentration in the fungi tested ranged from 5.6 to 10 micrograms cm-2 for the alkyresorcinols. The behaviour of the different cultivars against these fungi could be predicted by measuring the natural amount of resorcinols of each variety by TLC-scanning densitometry. The ranking of cultivars thus established correlated well with the field behaviour of each cultivar, providing a useful and rapid method for predicting the behaviour against fungi of new varieties being developed.