Of the three isomers of aminobutyric acid, only the β isomer (BABA) was effective in inducing resistance against Peronospora parasitica, the causal agent of downy mildew, in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis). A single foliar spray applied to 7-day-old seedlings protected the plants against Peronospora parasitica for at least 15 days. Of the enantiomers (R and S), only the R was effective. Resistance was accompanied by a hypersensitive-like reaction (necrotic spots) which was evident before inoculation. BABA was systemically effective when applied to the roots, but failed to protect cotyledons adjacent to treated ones. Unlike other chemical inducers, BABA was effective when applied several hours postinoculation. It had no effect on P. parasitica spore germination. In cauliflower seedlings, BABA did not induce the accumulation of the pathogenesis-related protein PR-1, PR-2, PR-3, PR-5 and PR-9. Only treated and challenged seedlings accumulated PR-2.