We present a novel adaptive-resolution particle method for continuous parabolic problems. In this method, particles self-organize in order to adapt to local resolution requirements. This is achieved by pseudo forces that are designed so as to guarantee that the solution is always well sampled and that no holes or clusters develop in the particle distribution. The particle sizes are locally adapted to the length scale of the solution. Differential operators are consistently evaluated on the evolving set of irregularly distributed particles of varying sizes using discretization-corrected operators. The method does not rely on any global transforms or mapping functions. After presenting the method and its error analysis, we demonstrate its capabilities and limitations on a set of two- and three-dimensional benchmark problems. These include advection-diffusion, the Burgers equation, the Buckley-Leverett five-spot problem, and curvature-driven level-set surface refinement.