Biological invasions depend in part on the resistance of native communities. Meta-analyses of terrestrial experiments demonstrate that native primary producers and herbivores generally resist invasions of primary producers, and that resistance through competition strengthens with native producer diversity. To test the generality of these findings, we conducted a meta-analysis of marine experiments. We found that native marine producers generally failed to resist producer invasions through competition unless the native community was diverse, and this diversity effect was weaker in marine than in terrestrial systems. In contrast, native consumers equally resisted invasive producers in both ecosystems. Most marine experiments, however, tested invasive consumers and these invasions were resisted more strongly than were producer invasions. Given these differences between ecosystems and between marine trophic levels, we used a model-selection approach to assess if factors other than the resistance mechanism (i.e. competition vs. consumption) are more important for predicting marine biotic resistance. These results suggest that understanding marine biotic resistance depends on latitude, habitat and invader taxon, in addition to distinguishing between competition with and consumption by native species. By examining biotic resistance within and across ecosystems, our work provides a more complete understanding of the factors that underlie biological invasions.