A white spruce, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss (Pinaceae), plantation in southern Quebec was found to contain two distinct types of trees, the first resistant and the second susceptible to attack by spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clemens) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). To identify the mechanisms of white spruce resistance to spruce budworm, we studied the role of epicuticular waxes, comparing (i) the foliar chemistry of susceptible and resistant trees and (ii) the feeding pattern of larvae at first contact with the foliage. Needles collected from resistant trees contained concentrations of the monoterpenes α-pinene and myrcene that were 307% and 476%, respectively, above those found in needles collected from susceptible trees. Although there were no significant differences in probing behaviour, significantly fewer larvae transitioned from probing to feeding on resistant needles; this led to fewer feeding bouts as well as a significantly shorter first meal. Removal of waxes increased the number of individuals transitioning from probing to feeding on resistant needles; this led to more feeding bouts. Our results demonstrate that monoterpenes influence the pattern of feeding of spruce budworm larvae as well as playing an important role in white spruce resistance.