When a pathogen is perceived by a host plant, a series of defense responses can be activated. One of these are «local» defenses that occur rapidly at the site of pathogen invasion. Another are «systemic» defenses that are induced in uninoculated parts of the plant. Recently, molecular genetic studies have revealed genes that are signaling components of systemic resistance pathways. Cloning of these genes and characterization of the function of their proteins is now providing insights to processes regulating plant defense against pathogens. Evidence that “systemic” defenses are important for resistance is that when the way is blocked in transgenic plants or in mutants, the plant’s defense is compromised. When the pathway is stimulated by exogenous compounds or in mutants, the host resistance is strengthened. A detailed understanding of this pathway is important for both practical and theoretical reasons.