Background: Plasmodium falciparum strains that are resistant to standard-dose chloroquine can be treated by higher chloroquine concentrations maintained for a longer time in vivo. Objectives: To determine the relative importance of chloroquine concentrations versus exposure time for elimination of chloroquine-susceptible and -resistant P. falciparum in vitro. Methods: Chloroquine-susceptible (3D7) and -resistant (FCR3) strains were exposed in vitro to 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32 times their respective 90% inhibitory chloroquine concentrations for 3, 5, 7 or 14 days and then followed until recrudescence, or not, by 42 days after the end of exposure. Results: Exposure to chloroquine appeared to eliminate susceptible and resistant parasites, leaving small pyknotic apparently dead parasites. Chloroquine-susceptible and -resistant parasites recrudesced after 3 and 5 days of chloroquine exposure. Recrudescence occurred in one out of four 7 day exposure series but not after 14 days exposure. The median time to recrudescence was 13 to 28 days with a range of 8 to 41 days after the end of exposure. Time to recrudescence after the end of exposure increased with duration of exposure for susceptible and resistant strains (P < 0.001). Time to recrudescence did not correlate with concentrations greater than 1× IC90. Conclusions: Chloroquine-susceptible and -resistant P. falciparum probably become dormant. Elimination of dormant parasites is primarily dependent upon the duration of chloroquine exposure. Exposure to effective drug concentrations for 7 days eliminates most parasites in vitro. The results support in vivo data indicating that elimination of chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum correlates with Day 7 chloroquine concentrations.