Antibacterial peptides were first considered rather species-specific. However, the perspective began to change in 1987-89. Five years later there were two symposium volumes and several reviews on gene-encoded peptide antibiotics which covered the known peptides irrespective of origin. The field is rapidly growing and a first update was published in this Journal in 1996. At that time a database was made with about 100 entries; now it has over 400, with some redundancy. Recently a methodological handbook was published and there are many specialized reviews covering only defensins or insect immunity. In the last 2 years, the larger perspective of innate immunity and the role of gene-mediated peptide antibiotics have evolved in ways which justify a new update. Today insects and plants are known to have similar overall design of their defensins while insects and mammals have very similar control mechanisms. The signal pathways are beginning to appear and the future perspective may involve additional changes.