Abstract • The developmental performance of the large pine weevil Hylobius abietis was studied in the laboratory on four species of conifer, Corsican pine Pinus nigra var. maritima, Sitka spruce Picea sitchensis, Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii and Japanese larch Larix kaempferi. • All species supported development, but, there was considerable variation in larval mortality, development time and weight of adults on emergence between host species. • Levels of mortality were highest in Japanese larch (77%) and lowest in Corsican pine (8.2%), and the heaviest adults emerged from Corsican pine (130 mg) and the smallest from Douglas-fir (74 mg). • A constitutive plant defence chemical, lignin, found to vary within a northern provenance of Sitka spruce, also strongly affected larval development. • The significance of these findings is discussed in relation to the management of H. abietis.