This review examines potential impacts of transgenic cultivars on insect population dynamics and evolution. Experience with classically bred, insecticidal cultivars has demonstrated that a solid understanding of both the target insect's ecology and the cultivar's performance under varied field conditions will be essential for predicting area-wide effects of transgenic cultivars on pest and natural enemy dynamics. This experience has also demonstrated the evolutionary capacity of pests for adaptive response to insecticidal traits in crops. Biochemical and genetic studies of insect adaptation to the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins expressed by currently marketed transgenic cultivars indicate a high risk for rapid adaptation if these cultivars are misused. Theoretical and practical issues involved in implementing strategies to delay pest adaptation to insecticidal cultivars are reviewed. Emphasis is placed on examining the "high dose"/refuge strategy that has become the goal of industry and regulatory authorities.