There is wide variation in the extractive content and decay resistance of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) heartwood. The heartwood is not visible in standing trees and only poorly visible in timber. Therefore, it is difficult to identify extractive-rich trees, and consequently the most decay-resistant heartwood. On the other hand, knots are clearly visible in standing trees and timber. In the present paper we studied the possibility of measuring the decay resistance of Scots pine heartwood indirectly on the basis of the extractive concentration of knotwood. The material investigated consisted of 40 felled trees with a wide between-tree variation for extractive content and decay resistance of their heartwood. The extractive content of knotwood was found to be four- to five-fold higher than that of heartwood. Statistically significant correlations were found between the mass loss of heartwood and the concentrations of total phenolics and stilbenes in knotwood (r=-0.54, P<0.001 and r=-0.40, P=0.011, respectively), and for the concentration of total phenolics (r=0.42, P=0.008) and stilbenes (r=0.39, P=0.012) between heartwood and knotwood. We suggest further development of this technique in the context of rapid industrial screening of durable pine heartwood.