Plasmodium falciparum sensitivity to quinine in São Tomé was determined by in vivo and in vitro tests in 56 children with mild or cerebral malaria. Chloroquine sensitivity was assessed by in vitro tests in 105 parasitaemic asymptomatic children from the same community as the cases. The WHO standard methodology was used. No resistance to quinine was found by in vivo or in vitro tests in either group of patients or in asymptomatic children, although some degree of chloroquine resistance was found with the in vitro test. This was more common in patients than in asymptomatic children. Chloroquine resistance may be explained by the recent history of malaria in São Tomé Island, which caused an important decrease of immunity among the population and consequently the emergence of resistant strains. Implications of the use of in vivo/in vitro tests for determining the antimalarial drug policy within the primary health care system are discussed.