Pathogenic strains of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato carrying the avrRpt2 avirulence gene specifically induce a hypersensitive cell death response in Arabidopsis plants that contain the complementary RPS2 disease resistance gene. Transient expression of avrRpt2 in Arabidopsis plants having the RPS2 gene has been shown to induce hypersensitive cell death. In order to analyze the effects of conditional expression of avrRpt2 in Arabidopsis plants, transgenic lines were constructed that contained the avrRpt2 gene under the control of a tightly regulated, glucocorticoid-inducible promoter. Dexamethasone-induced expression of avrRpt2 in transgenic lines having the RPS2 gene resulted in a specific hypersensitive cell death response that resembled a Pseudomonas syringae-induced hypersensitive response and also induced the expression of a pathogenesis-related gene (PR1). Interestingly, high level expression of avrRpt2 in a mutant rps2-101C background resulted in plant stress and ultimately cell death, suggesting a possible role for avrRpt2 in Pseudomonas syringae virulence. Transgenic RPS2 and rps2 plants that contain the glucocorticoid-inducible avrRpt2 gene will provide a powerful new tool for the genetic, physiological, biochemical, and molecular dissection of an avirulence gene-specified cell death response in both resistant and susceptible plants.