BACKGROUND: An Eleusine indica population has evolved resistance to glufosinate, a major post-emergence herbicide of global agriculture. This population was analysed for target-site (glutamine synthetase) and non-target-site (glufosinate uptake, translocation and metabolism) resistance mechanisms. RESULTS: Glutamine synthetase (GS) activity extracted from susceptible (S) and resistant (R*) plants was equally sensitive to glufosinate inhibition, with IC50 values of 0.85 mm and 0.99 mm, respectively. The extractable GS activity was also similar in S and R* samples. Foliar uptake of [14C]-glufosinate did not differ in S and R* plants, nor did glufosinate net uptake in leaf discs. Translocation of [14C]-glufosinate into untreated shoots and roots was also similar in both populations, with 44% to 47% of the herbicide translocated out from the treated leaf 24 h after treatment. The HPLC and LC-MS analysis of glufosinate metabolism revealed no major metabolites in S or R* leaf tissue. CONCLUSIONS: Glufosinate resistance in this resistant population is not due to an insensitive GS, or increased activity, or altered glufosinate uptake and translocation, or enhanced glufosinate metabolism. Thus, target-site resistance is likely excluded and the exact resistance mechanism(s) remain to be determined.