Female fecundity, oviposition preference and specificity on one normal and two novel food media were assayed on four laboratory populations ofDrosophila melanogaster, revealing considerable among- and within-population variation in oviposition preference. Overall, there was a significant tendency of females to prefer novel media to their normal banana food as an oviposition substrate. Specificity in the populations was fairly high, implying that a large proportion of females tended to lay the majority of their eggs on the preferred medium. The results showed that oviposition preference for a given food medium could be affected by the alternative provided, and that, consequently, oviposition preference for a given food medium versus another cannot be predicted based upon a knowledge of what the preference for each of the two media was versus a common third medium. Specificity, on the other hand, was not significantly affected by the type of alternative food media provided in a given trial. Moreover, comparison of results from fecundity and oviposition preference assays also showed that the egg laying behaviour ofDrosophila females in response to different food media may be different in choice versus no-choice situations. Thus, a substrate on which fecundity is higher than on another, when assayed in a no-choice situation, may not be preferred over the other substrate when a choice between the two is provided to the ovipositing females. The latter two results point to possible complexity in the responses of females to various oviposition substrates based upon the overall setting of the assay, including the alternative substrates present for egg laying.