Activation of non-cultivar-specific plant defense against attempted microbial infection is mediated through the recognition of pathogen-derived elicitors. Previously, we have identified a peptide fragment (Pep-13) within a 42-kDa cell wall transglutaminase from various Phytophthora species that triggers a multifacetted defense response in parsley cells. Many of these oomycete species have now been shown to possess another cell wall protein (24 kDa), that evoked the same pattern of responses in parsley as Pep-13. Unlike Pep-13, necrosis-inducing Phytophthora protein 1 (NPP1) purified from P. parasitica also induced hypersensitive cell death-like lesions in parsley. NPP1 structural homologs were found in oomycetes, fungi, and bacteria, but not in plants. Structure-activity relationship studies revealed the intact protein as well as two cysteine residues to be essential for elicitor activity. NPP1-mediated activation of pathogen defense in parsley does not employ the Pep-13 receptor. However, early induced cellular responses implicated in elicitor signal transmission (increased levels of cytoplasmic calcium, production of reactive oxygen species, MAP kinase activation) were stimulated by either elicitor, suggesting the existence of converging signaling pathways in parsley. Infiltration of NPP1 into leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana Col-0 plants resulted in transcript accumulation of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes, production of ROS and ethylene, callose apposition, and HR-like cell death. NPP1-mediated induction of the PR1 gene is salicylic acid-dependent, and, unlike the P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000(avrRpm1)-induced PR1 gene expression, requires both functional NDR1 and PAD4. In summary, Arabidopsis plants infiltrated with NPP1 constitute an experimental system that is amenable to forward genetic approaches aiming at the dissection of signaling pathways implicated in the activation of non-cultivar-specific plant defense.