We investigate the onset of chaotic resonance (CR) behavior by studying the dynamics of chaotically driven bistable systems near the crisis bifurcation point. Our analysis reveals the existence and identification of a characteristic natural frequency associated with the dynamics of the system confirming that classical resonance is responsible for CR. We also classify the different routes via which CR can originate. The ability to manipulate the route to CR can be of importance in developing technological applications. © 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.