To investigate the dynamics of the potato-Potato virus Y (PVY) compatible interaction in relation to salicylic acid-controlled pathways we performed experiments using non-transgenic potato cv. Désirée, transgenic NahG-Désirée, cv. Igor and PVY(NTN), the most aggressive strain of PVY. The importance of salicylic acid in viral multiplication and symptom development was confirmed by pronounced symptom development in NahG-Désirée, depleted in salicylic acid, and reversion of the effect after spraying with 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid (a salicylic acid-analogue). We have employed quantitative PCR for monitoring virus multiplication, as well as plant responses through expression of selected marker genes of photosynthetic activity, carbohydrate metabolism and the defence response. Viral multiplication was the slowest in inoculated potato of cv. Désirée, the only asymptomatic genotype in the study. The intensity of defence-related gene expression was much stronger in both sensitive genotypes (NahG-Désirée and cv. Igor) at the site of inoculation than in asymptomatic plants (cv. Désirée). Photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism gene expression differed between the symptomatic and asymptomatic phenotypes. The differential gene expression pattern of the two sensitive genotypes indicates that the outcome of the interaction does not rely simply on one regulatory component, but similar phenotypical features can result from distinct responses at the molecular level.