The root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne chitwoodi and M. fallax, cause severe damage to economically important crops and, in 1998, both species were listed as quarantine pests in Europe. Comparative studies were made on the effects of root diffusates and host age on the in vitro hatching of M. chitwoodi and M. fallax. There is a marked contrast in the hatching response of the two species. Hatching of second-stage juveniles (J2) of M. chitwoodi produced on young plants did not require host root diffusate stimulus, whereas at the end of the plant growing season, egg masses contained a percentage of unhatched J2 that require host root diffusate to cause hatch. This form of obligate quiescence at the end of the host growing season was not found in M. fallax. This species hatched well in water and did not require hatch stimulation from root diffusate, irrespective of the age of the plant on which the egg masses were produced. The number of eggs per egg mass for M. fallax collected on senescing plants was significantly greater than the number of eggs per egg mass for M. chitwoodi. The number of eggs per egg mass of M. chitwoodi decreased with plant age. The results are discussed in the context of the differing survival strategies of the two species.