The dauer larva is a facultative developmental stage in the life cycle of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Dauer larvae, which can survive under starvation for over 60 days, resume normal development when feeding is resumed. Wild-type (N2) and 4 radiation-sensitive (rad) mutant dauer larvae were tested for their abilities to develop into adults after UV-irradiation. The rad-3 mutant was over 30 times as sensitive as N2; rad-1, rad-2 and rad-7 mutants were not hypersensitive. Irradiation also delayed development in survivors. Wild-type dauer larvae did not differ in radiation sensitivity from 0 through 50 days of age. There was no liquid holding recovery (LHR); that is, survival did not increase when wild-type dauer larvae were held in buffer after irradiation. (orig.). 28 refs.; 4 figs.