SFR2, a member of the S gene family of receptor kinases, has been shown to be rapidly induced by wounding and bacterial infection suggesting that this gene may play a role in the defence response in Brassica. In this study we have compared the response of SFR2 to that of two other members of the SFR gene family in Brassica (SFR1 and SFR3) and to the closely-related ARK genes of Arabidopsis. Different patterns of mRNA accumulation were observed for different members of these families. SFR1 transcripts only accumulated in response to bacterial infection and their abundance was not significantly affected by wounding. Neither treatment induced accumulation of SFR3 transcripts. ARK1 and ARK3 resembled SFR2 in that their mRNAs accumulated in response to both wounding and bacterial infection. Both SFR1 and SFR2 mRNAs accumulated in response to exogenously applied salicylic acid (SA) and SA was shown to be required for induction of expression from the SFR2 promoter in Arabidopsis. However, the timing of the increase in endogenous SA levels following bacterial infiltration in Brassica indicates that the accumulation of SFR mRNA in the first few hours after infiltration does not occur in response to an increase in SA levels. We discuss the possibility that induction of SFR gene expression by SA may contribute to potentialization of the defence response. Taken together with previous studies that indicate a possible role during development, the data presented here suggest that the SFR and ARK gene families may have overlapping roles in both defence and during development.