The outcome of a compatible mycorrhizal interaction is different from that in a compatible plant–pathogen interaction; however, it is not clear what mechanisms are used to evade or suppress the host defence. The aim of this work is to reveal differences between the interaction of Norway spruce roots to the pathogen Ceratocystis polonica and the ectomycorrhizal Laccaria bicolor, examine if L. bicolor is able to evade inducing host defence responses typically induced by pathogens, and test if prior inoculation with the ectomycorrhizal fungus affects the outcome of a later challenge with the pathogen. The pathogen was able to invade the roots and caused extensive necrosis, leading to seedling death, with or without prior inoculation with L. bicolor. The ectomycorrhizal L. bicolor colonised primary roots of the Norway spruce seedlings by partly covering, displacing and convoluting the cells of the outer root cortex, leaving the seedlings healthy. We detected increased total peroxidase activity, and staining indicating increased lignification in roots as a response to C. polonica. In L. bicolor inoculated roots there was no increase in total peroxidase activity, but an additional highly acidic peroxidase isoform appeared that was not present in healthy roots, or in roots invaded by the pathogen. Increased protease activity was detected in roots colonised by C. polonica, but little protease activity was detected in L. bicolor inoculated roots. These results suggest that the pathogen efficiently invades the roots despite the induced host defence responses, while L. bicolor suppresses or evades inducing such host responses in this experimental system.