In 1990–1991, Diprion pini extensively defoliated Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees in Lauhanvuori National Park in southwestern Finland. Many trees lost all their foliage, while others had ca. 10% foliage left after the second year of defoliation. Outside the national park, many nearby stands were also heavily defoliated in 1990, but were sprayed with diflubenzuron (Dimilin®) in 1991. This protected the current year needles, corresponding to ca 30% of full foliage. In spring 1992, pine trees with 0, 10, 30 and 100% foliage remaining (10 small and 10 large trees in each category) were baited with pine bolts to induce stem attacks by pine shoot beetles. All baited trees were attacked by Tomicus piniperda and some by T. minor. The attacks failed in all these trees except those that were totally defoliated and some of the small trees with 10% foliage left. Many unbaited trees escaped attack entirely, but only totally defoliated trees were successfully colonized (i.e. produced brood). Attack densities and brood production figures peaked in baited, large and totally defoliated trees. None of the measures (cambial electrical resistance, resin flow, induced lesion length by fungal inoculation, amount of hydrocarbons or phenolic compounds) used to describe tree vigour at the time of attack gave better information than the estimated remaining foliage. We conclude that the risk for beetle-induced mortality following defoliation is a function of remaining needle biomass and beetle pressure. Even at high beetle densities (as was simulated by baiting of trees), trees with 10% of the foliage remaining were able to defend themselves against attacking pine shoot beetles.