© 2016 The Author(s).Background: Flixweed (Descurainia sophia L.) is a troublesome and widespread broadleaf weed in winter fields in China, and has evolved high level resistance to acetolactate synthase (ALS)-inhibiting sulfonylurea herbicide tribenuron-methyl. Results: We identified a resistant flixweed population (N11) exhibiting 116.3-fold resistance to tribenuron-methyl relative to the susceptible population (SD8). Target-site ALS gene mutation Pro-197-Thr was identified in resistant plants. Moreover, the resistance can be reversed to 28.7-fold by the cytochrome P450 inhibitor malathion. The RNA-Sequencing was employed to identify candidate genes involved in non-target-site metabolic resistance in this population. Total 26 differentially expressed contigs were identified and eight of them (four P450s, one ABC transporter, three glycosyltransferase) verified by qRT-PCR. Consistent over-expression of the two contigs homology to CYP96A13 and ABCC1 transporter, respectively, were further qRT-PCR validated using additional plants from the resistant and susceptible populations. Conclusions: Tribenuron-methyl resistance in flixweed is controlled by target-site ALS mutation and non-target-site based mechanisms. Two genes, CYP96A13 and ABCC1 transporter, could play an important role in metabolic resistance to tribenuron-methyl in the resistant flixweed population and justify further functional studies.