Quantitative variation is considered in natural populations using Drosophila as the example. A knowledge of such variation enables its rapid exploitation in directional selection experiments as shown for scutellar chaeta number. Where evidence has been obtained, genetic architectures are in qualitative agreement with Mather's concept of balance for traits under stabilizing selection. Additive genetic control is found for acute environmental stresses, but not for less acute stresses as shown by exposure to 60Co-gamma rays. D. simulans probably has a narrower ecological niche than its sibling species D. melanogaster associated with lower genetic heterogeneity. One specific environmental stress to which D. simulans is sensitive in nature is ethyl alcohol as shown by winery data.