Phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) activity increased rapidly in Pinus radiata seedlings after treatment with 2 mm 5-chlorosalicylic acid (5CSA) and peaked after 48 h at four-times the level of the control. Elevation of PAF is often associated with the induction of host resistance mechanisms. Thus, effects of 5CSA on subsequent infection of P. radiata by Sphaeropsis sapinea was investigated. Only one out of 16 seedlings treated with 2 mm 5CSA, 4 days before inoculation, developed deadtop compared to 14 of the controls. The 5CSA was directly inhibitory at this concentration and reduced growth rate of S. sapinea on agar by 27%. However, antifungal activity does not fully account for the observed disease control afforded by 5CSA since 0.5 mm and 0.25 mm 5CSA, which did not inhibit growth of S. sapinea, significantly reduced the incidence of deadtop. Furthermore, 1 mm 5CSA protected seedlings against fresh inoculation challenge for up to 32 days after application. Such durable resistance is unlikely to be attributable to the direct effects of the applied compound and may suggest the involvement of inducible host resistance mechanisms.