This paper examines how and why learner resistance (to the teacher's goals and expectations) occurred in a metacognition-training (MT) project, which aimed to enhance reflection and autonomy in EFL learning. MT was integrated into a regular EFL reading course for second-year BA TEFL undergraduates at a Chinese university. Learner resistance in the MT project was manifested partly through mismatches between the goals and expectations on the part of the teacher and the students. After suggesting initial reasons for learner resistance, the paper explores more complex explanations. That is, at a more macro level, institutional pressures and societal expectations arising from an influential national test (TEM-4) gave rise to an examination culture; at a more micro level, these controlling pressures and expectations were realized by the pragmatic product-oriented approach in the EFL classroom and by students' positioning as examination learners. These might help explain why learner resistance occurred in the MT project. The paper notes in the end that learner resistance is also a matter of tensions and conflicts in learner and teacher agendas, and in learners' short-term and long-term priorities in learning. Based on this, implications for EFL teaching and learning are explored. Copyright © 2006 Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.