Protease inhibitors (PIs) have been shown to cause lethal and sublethal effects on aphids depending on the kind of PI and aphid species. Therefore, these proteins might affect aphid parasitoids directly by inhibiting their digestive proteolysis or indirectly via their development in a less suitable host. In our study, the risk of exposure and the potential effects of soybean Bowman-Birk inhibitor (SbBBI) and oryzacystatin I (OCI) on the aphid endoparasitoid Aphidius ervi were investigated using artificial diet to deliver PIs. Immunoassays showed that both SbBBI and OCI were detected in the honeydew of aphids reared on artificial diet containing these recombinant proteins at 100 microg/mL. However, only SbBBI was detected in parasitoid larvae, while this PI could not be detected in adult parasitoids emerged from PI-intoxicated aphids. Enzymatic inhibition assays showed that digestive proteolytic activity of larvae and adults of A. ervi predominantly relies on serine proteases and especially on chymotrypsin-like activity. Bioassays using SbBBI and OCI on artificial diet were performed. A. ervi that developed on intoxicated aphids had impaired fitness. Thus development and parasitism success of parasitoids exposed to OCI were severely affected. On the contrary, SbBBI only altered significantly female size and sex ratio. Direct exposure to PIs through adult food intake did not affect female's longevity, while SbBBI and OCI (100 microg/mL) induced 69% and 30% inhibition of digestive protease activity, respectively. These studies made it possible to estimate the risk of exposure to plant PIs and the sensitivity of the aphid parasitoid A. ervi to these entomotoxins, by combining immunological, biochemical and biological approaches. First it pointed out that only immature stages are affected by PIs. Secondly, it documented two different modes of effect, according to the nature of the PIs and both host and parasitoid susceptibility. OCI prevented the development of A. ervi mainly due to the host susceptibility, whereas SbBBI only induced sublethal effects on the parasitoid, possibly due to both direct action on the parasitoid susceptible proteases, and host-mediated action through size reduction.