Wounding of plants by insects is often mimicked in the laboratory by mechanical means such as cutting or crushing, and has not been compared directly with other forms of biotic stress such as virus infection. To compare the response of plants to these types of biotic and abiotic stress, trypsin inhibitor (TI) activity induced locally and systemically in mature tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) plants was followed for 12 days. In tobacco, cutting, crushing and insect feeding all induced comparable levels of TI activity of approx. 5 nmol·(mg leaf protein)−1 in wounded leaves, while tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) infection of tobacco induced 10-fold lower amounts in the infected leaves. In tomato, feeding by insects also led to the induction of a level of TI activity of 5 nmol·(mg leaf protein)−1. In contrast, both cutting and crushing of tomato leaves induced 10-fold higher amounts. These data show that biotic stress, in the form of insect feeding and TMV infection, and abiotic stress, in the form of wounding, have different effects on local levels of induced TI activity in mature tobacco and tomato plants. Irrespective of the type of wounding, in neither tobacco nor tomato could systemic induction of TI activity be observed in nearby unwounded leaves, which suggests that systemic induction of TI activity in mature tobacco and tomato plants is different from systemic TI induction in seedlings. Wounding of tobacco leaves, however, did increase the responsiveness to wounding elsewhere in the plant, as measured by an increased induction of TI activity.