Behavioural studies of the grasshopper Schistocerca americana were undertaken to identify the mechanisms that regulate the intake of dietary sterols. In the first experiment, grasshoppers were allowed to feed on spinach, a plant containing only unsuitable sterols; immediately after this first meal, a suitable or unsuitable sterol was injected into the haemolymph. Grasshoppers injected with unsuitable sterols had second meals on spinach that were significantly shorter than those of grasshoppers injected with suitable sterols, indicating that unsuitable dietary sterols are detected post-ingestively. In the second experiment, grasshoppers were fed food containing only unsuitable sterols and were then presented with glass-fibre discs containing different concentrations of a suitable sterol or sucrose only (the control). The results suggest that grasshoppers do not use a direct feedback operating on mouthpart chemoreceptors to regulate their intake of suitable sterols. In the third experiment, grasshoppers were presented with artificial diets containing different sterols and flavours, and feeding was observed over a sequence of meals. The results from both the first and last experiments suggest a role for associative learning in regulating the intake of unsuitable sterols.