Theoretical studies have predicted that inducible defenses affect food chain dynamics and persistence. Here we review and evaluate laboratory experiments that tested hypotheses developed from these theoretical studies. This review specifically focuses on the effects of inducible defenses in phytoplankton-rotifer food chain dynamics. First, we describe the occurrence of colony formation within different strains of green algae (Scenedesmaceae) in response to infochemicals released during grazing by the herbivorous rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus. Then we examined the effects of inducible defenses on the population dynamics of this planktonic system in which algal strains that differed in their defense strategies were used. Simple food chains were composed of green algae (Scenedesmaceae), herbivorous rotifers (Brachionus calyciflorus) and carnivorous rotifers (Asplanchna brightwellii). In this system B. calyciflorus exhibits an inducible defense against predation by developing long postero-lateral spines. Experimental studies showed that inducible defenses, as opposed to their absence, could prevent high-amplitude population fluctuations. We discuss the dual effects of induced defenses on extinction probabilities and consider the fit of a theoretical model to experimental data to understand the mechanisms that underlie the observed dynamics.