Belowground-feeding herbivores may be very destructive to plants. Roots are known to produce various defense compounds to protect themselves against these herbivores, both with direct and indirect—inducible—defense compounds. Recent literature reviews reveal no overall pattern for root-shoot defense allocation. Optimal defense allocation patterns within roots may be predicted with an ecophysiological model taking into account the value and vulnerability of root classes. Induced responses elicited by root herbivores are likely to result in systemic responses in the shoots. These systemic responses may affect aboveground herbivores and higher trophic levels. This calls into question whether root-to-shoot systemic induction is an adaptive response. Physiological responses conferring tolerance may co-occur with resistance responses, depending on the biotic and abiotic environment of the roots. More detailed analyses of root defenses and the feeding sites of herbivores are needed to gain a better understanding of optimal defense allocation in roots.