Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae, like many plant pathogenic bacteria, secretes a 'harpin' protein that can elicit the hypersensitive response (HR), a defensive cellular suicide, in non-host plants. The harpin-encoding hrpZ gene is located in an operon that also encodes Hrp secretion pathway components and is part of the functional cluster of hrp genes carried on cosmid pHIR11 that enables saprophytic bacteria like Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas fluorescens to elicit the HR in tobacco leaves. We have constructed functionally non-polar hrpZ deletion mutations, revealing that HrpZ is necessary for saprophytic bacteria carrying pHIR11 to elicit a typical HR, whereas it only enhances the elicitation activity of P. s. syringae. Partial deletion mutations revealed that the N-terminal 153 amino acids of HrpZ can enable E. coli MC4100-(pHIR11) to elicit a strong HR. hrpZ subclone products comprising the N-terminal 109 amino acids and C-terminal 216 amino acids, respectively, of the 341 amino acid protein were isolated and found to elicit the HR. P. fluorescens (pHIR11 hrmA::TnphoA) mutants do not elicit the HR, but cell fractionation and immunoblot analysis revealed that they produce and secrete wild-type levels of HrpZ. Therefore, elicitor activity resides in multiple regions of HrpZ, P. syringae produces elicitor(s) in addition to HrpZ, and HrpZ is essential but not sufficient for HR elicitation by saprophytic bacteria carrying pHIR11.