Four inducers of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) were examined for their efficacy in controlling rust infection caused by Puccinia helianthi in sunflower plants. Of the four compounds, DL-3-amino-n-butanoic acid (DL-β-aminobutyric acid [BABA]) was the most effective and sodium salicylate (NaSA) was the least effective in protecting against rust. In leaf disk assays, full protection was obtained with BABA at 25 μg/ml, benzodiathiazol-S-methyl ester (BTH) at 100 μg/ml, 2,6-di-chloroisonicotinic acid (INA) at 100 μg/ml, and NaSA at >200 μg/ml. L-2-amino-n-butanoic acid (AABA) was partially effective, whereas N-methyl-BABA and 4-aminobutnoic acid (GABA) were ineffective. The R-enantiomer of BABA, but not the S-enantiomer, was more effective than the racemic mixture. In intact plants, BABA applied as a foliar spray or a root dip, before or after (up to 48 h) inoculation, provided significant protection for 8 days. BTH, INA, and NaSA were less protective and more phytotoxic compared with BABA. BABA did not affect urediospore germination, germ tube growth, appressorial formation, or initial ingress of P. helianthi, but strongly suppressed mycelial colonization in the mesophyll and, consequently, pustule and urediospore formation. No accumulation of defense compounds (phenolics, lignin, or callose) was detected in BABA-treated inoculated or noninoculated plants. This is the first report on the activity of BABA against an obligate Basidomycete pathogen in planta.