Large differences exist in flower and fruit herbivory between dune and inland populations of plants of Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae). Two specialist weevils Ceutorhynchus atomus and C. contractus (Curculionidae) and their larvae are responsible for this pattern in herbivory. We test, by means of a reciprocal transplant experiment, whether these differences reflect environmental influences or genetic variation in plant defense level. All plants suffered more damage after being transplanted to the dune site than after being transplanted to the inland site. Plants of inland origin suffered more flower and fruit herbivory than plants of dune origin when grown at the dune transplant site, but differences were much smaller at the inland site. Both flower damage by adult weevils and fruit damage by their larvae were subject to significant genotype x environment interactions. The observed pattern in herbivory is a strong indication for local adaption of plant defense to the le! vel of herbivory by Ceutorhynchus. In order to identify the mechanism of defense, a quantitative analysis of glucosinolates was performed on the seeds with HPLC. Highly significant differences were found in glucosinolate types and total concentration. These patterns were mainly determined by the origin of the plants (dune or inland) and by a genotype x environment interaction. Herbivory was not significantly correlated to the concentration of glucosinolates in seeds. We therefore analyzed the total metabolic composition of seeds, using NMR spectroscopy and multivariate data analysis. Major differences in chemical composition were found in the water-methanol fractions: more glucosinolate and sucrose in the dune and more fatty acids, lipids and sinapoylmalate in the inland populations. We discuss which of these chemical factors could explain the marked differences in damage between populations.