Pathogen attack represents a major problem for viticulture and for agriculture in general. At present, the use of phytochemicals is more and more restrictive, and therefore it is becoming essential to control disease by having a thorough knowledge of resistance mechanisms. The present work focused on the trans-regulatory proteins potentially involved in the control of the plant defence response, the WRKY proteins. A full-length cDNA, designated VvWRKY1, was isolated from a grape berry library (Vitis vinifera L. cv. Cabernet Sauvignon). It encodes a polypeptide of 151 amino acids whose structure is characteristic of group IIc WRKY proteins. VvWRKY1 gene expression in grape is regulated in a developmental manner in berries and leaves and by various signal molecules involved in defence such as salicylic acid, ethylene, and hydrogen peroxide. Biochemical analysis indicates that VvWRKY1 specifically interacts with the W-box in various nucleotidic contexts. Functional analysis of VvWRKY1 was performed by overexpression in tobacco, and transgenic plants exhibited reduced susceptibility to various fungi but not to viruses. These results are consistent with a possible role for VvWRKY1 in grapevine defence against fungal pathogens.