The induction by cytokinin stress and ethylene of nine different tobacco mosaic virus-inducible mRNA classes (termed A-I) encoding pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins was studied. The induced mRNA levels were compared to basal levels in healthy tobacco plants grown in tissue culture and in a greenhouse. Cytokinin stress and ethylene were found to induce different subsets of the mRNAs, indicating that ethylene is not the primary inducing signal in cytokinin-stressed shoots. mRNAs F, H and G encoding the basic hydrolytic enzymes chitinase, beta-1,3-glucanase and a basic equivalent of PR-1, respectively, were found to be expressed at high levels in roots of healthy plants. mRNAs D, I and B encoding the acidic equivalents of the proteins proved to be present at low levels in healthy plants. These results indicate that genes encoding basic and acidic isoforms of pathogenesis-related proteins are differentially regulated.