In The Gambia, the use of permethrin-treated bed nets has led to a reduction in morbidity and mortality from malaria in children. However, no clear evidence has been found for a 'mass-killing effect' on the mosquito vectors as a result of this intervention. Two further entomological studies to investigate this phenomenon have been carried out. In one study, 20 villages were paired so that bed nets in one member of each pair were treated with permethrin. In the other, a cross-over design was used in which treated and untreated bed nets were exchanged between 2 villages. Longevity, biting rate and resting density of the malaria vector population and sporozoite rates were assessed in both studies. Malaria vectors were equally abundant and long-lived, and as likely to be infective, in villages with treated bed nets as in those with untreated nets. However, a clear reduction in the density of the indoor-resting population of mosquitoes in rooms with treated bed nets was found, probably reflecting the excito-repellency of the insecticide. This study confirmed that, in The Gambia, the protection against death and morbidity from malaria seen in children using treated bed nets must be due primarily to personal protection rather than to a 'mass-killing effect' on the mosquito vector population at a village level.