BACKGROUND The factors contributing to the current resurgence of bed bug Cimex lectularius L. populations across the United States and elsewhere include, among others, the development of resistance to chemical insecticides and population management practices. This has led to the development and attempted refinement of many non-chemical control methods that contribute to an IPM approach to solving the current bed bug population density increase in urban dwellings. One such approach is the use of heat in the form of steam to provide an effective mechanism for controlling localized infestations of bed bugs. RESULTS The work reported herein was designed to refine our understanding of the duration of bed bug/steam contact necessary to affect mortality of bed bugs in laboratory trials. Beg bug eggs, nymphs and adults were exposed to three steam treatment exposure periods in these trials. Mean percentage mortality of bed bug eggs was 100% (regardless of duration of exposure), and that of nymphs and adults ranged from 88.0 to 94.0%. Survivorship of nymphs and adults in the trials was the result of experimental protocol restrictions that would not usually be associated with actual pest management efforts. CONCLUSIONS The treatment equipment used in these trials is portable and relatively inexpensive and represents a non-chemical means of killing all life stages of bed bugs. While this method would likely be seen as an inefficient means of remediating a mature bed bug infestation within a structure, it does represent a practical component of integrated management of this pest insect.