Transgenic plants expressing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) were first commercialized in 1996 amid concern from some scientists, regulators and environmentalists that the widespread use of Bt crops would inevitably lead to resistance and the loss of a 'public good,' specifically, the susceptibility of insect pests to Bt proteins. Eight years later, Bt corn and cotton have been grown on a cumulative area >80 million ha worldwide. Despite dire predictions to the contrary, resistance to a Bt crop has yet to be documented, suggesting that resistance management strategies have been effective thus far. However, current strategies to delay resistance remain far from ideal. Eight years without resistance provides a timely opportunity for researchers, regulators and industry to reassess the risk of resistance and the most effective strategies to preserve Bt and other novel insect-resistant crops in development.