Most species of the genus Phytophthora produce 10-kDa extracellular protein elicitors, collectively termed elicitins. Elicitins induce hypersensitive response in a restricted number of plants, particularly in the genus Nicotiana within the Solanaceae family. A cDNA encoding INF1, the major secreted elicitin of Phytophthora infestans, a pathogen of solanaceous plants, was isolated and characterized. The expression of the corresponding inf1 gene during the disease cycle of P. infestans was analyzed. inf1 was shown to be expressed in mycelium grown in various culture media, whereas it was not expressed in sporangiospores, zoospores, cysts, and germinating cysts. In planta, during infection of potato, particularly during the biotrophic stage, expression of inf1 was down-regulated compared to in vitro. The highest levels of expression of inf1 were observed in in vitro grown mycelium and in late stages of infection when profuse sporulation and leaf necrosis occur. The potential role of INF1 as an elicitor in interactions between P. infestans and Solanum species was investigated. Nineteen lines, representing nine solanaceous species with various levels of resistance to P. infestans, were tested for response to an Escherichia coli expressed INF1. Within the genus Solanum, resistance to P. infestans did not appear to be mediated by a defense response elicited by INF1. However, INF1 recognition could be a component of nonhost resistance of tobacco to P. infestans.