Process for the production of ethylbenzene by alkylation over a silicalite alkylation catalyst with the subsequent transalkylation of diethylbenzene with the alkylation catalyst and conditions selected to retard xylene production and also heavies production. A feedstock containing benzene and ethylene is applied to a multi-stage alkylation reaction zone having a plurality of series-connected catalyst beds containing a pentasil molecular sieve alkylation catalyst which is silicalite of a predominantly monoclinic symmetry having a silica/alumina ratio of at least 275. The feedstock is supplied to the alkylation reaction zone to cause gas-phase ethylation of benzene at a flow rate to provide a space velocity of benzene over the catalyst to produce a xylene concentration in the product of about 600 ppm or less based upon the ethylbenzene content. Periodically the space velocity may be increased to a value which is greater than the space velocity associated with a minimum concentration of diethylbenzene in the alkylation product such that diethylbenzene production is enhanced while minimizing any attendant transalkylation reactions within the alkylation reaction zone. This is accompanied by a relatively low xylene content in the product, specifically no more than 600 ppm based upon the ethylbenzene in the product. The output from the alkylation reactor is applied to an intermediate recovery zone for the separation and recovery of ethylbenzene with the recovery of a polyalkylated aromatic component which is supplied along with benzene to a transalkylation reaction zone where the polyalkylated aromatic fraction is subject to disproportionation to provide a reduced diethylbenzene content and an enhanced ethylbenzene content.