Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to clone two esterase cDNAs from a diazinon-resistant field population of horn flies that expresses qualitative and quantitative differences in esterases compared with a susceptible population. The open reading frame from one of the esterase cDNAs, HialphaE7, exhibits substantial amino-acid identity to an esterase associated with diazinon resistance in Lucilia cuprina. RNA Northern blots showed that HialphaE7 mRNA was more abundant in the diazinon-resistant population than the susceptible population. DNA copy number analysis did not reveal major differences in HialphaE7 gene copy number between the two populations. The full-length cDNA to HialphaE7 was cloned and sequenced, and found to contain all of the highly conserved sequence elements associated with carboxyl/cholinesterases. The HialphaE7 homologs in diazinon-resistant strains of L. cuprina and Musca domestica have been shown to possess an amino-acid substitution conferring diazinon hydrolytic activity to the esterase enzyme. This amino-acid substitution was not found in diazinon-resistant horn flies examined by allele-specific PCR. Individual flies from the resistant field population were phenotyped as diazinon-resistant or diazinon-susceptible by topical diazinon application bioassays and total RNA isolated and hybridized to HialphaE7 probe in ribonuclease protection assays. HialphaE7 transcript was expressed at a five-fold higher level in resistant female individual flies than in susceptible female individuals.