Genes for acidic, extracellular and basic, intracellular pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins of tobacco were studied for their response to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) infection, ethephon treatment, wounding and UV light. The genes encoding the acidic PR proteins (PR-1, PR-2, PR-3, PR-4 and PR-5) responded similarly to the different forms of stress. They appeared to be highly inducible by TMV, moderately inducible by ethephon treatment and UV light and not inducible by wounding. The genes for the basic counterparts of PR-1, PR-2, PR-3 and PR-5 also displayed a common stress response. However, this response was different from that of the acidic PR proteins. Here, the highest induction was obtained upon ethephon treatment, while the other stress conditions resulted in somewhat lower levels of expression. Most genes for acidic PR proteins are systemically induced in the uninfected upper leaves of TMV-infected plants, whereas the genes encoding the basic PR proteins are not. Increased levels of resistance to TMV, comparable to resistance obtained by pre-infection with the virus, were found in UV-irradiated leaves but not in wounded or ethephon-treated leaves. This indicates that the basic PR proteins are not involved in resistance to TMV infection. Tobacco phenylalanine ammonia-lyase genes were not inducible by the various stress conditions. The implications of these findings in relation to the phenomenon of acquired resistance are discussed.