Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) of the rhizobacterium Rhizobium etli strain G12 are involved in the induction of systemic resistance in potato roots towards the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida. In the present study, the wild type strain G12 and three LPS-mutant strains with truncated O-antigens all reduced nematode infection of potato plants to about 30% that of untreated controls. Therefore, the O-antigen of the bacterial LPS cannot be the sole inducer of the resistance mechanism. In further search of the mode of action, the isolated core-region and lipid A-fraction of the LPS of one O-antigen-mutant strain R. etli #4-153 were tested for elicitor activity. Using a split-root system, which provides spatial separation of the inducing agent from the parasite, it was shown that both the entire LPS and its core-region systemically reduced G. pallida infection to 45% that of the untreated control. In contrast, the lipid A-fraction was less effective; the 20% reduction in nematode infection was not different from the control nor from the LPS and core region treatments. It is concluded that the oligosaccharides of the core-region are the main trigger of systemic resistance in potato roots towards G. pallida infection.