Extra-cellular enzyme production of different Phaeoacremonium spp. and Phaemoniella chlamydospora isolates were used to assay the possibility of inter-specific characterisation. Isolates of Phaeoacremonium aleophilum, Phaeoacremonium angustius, R viticola and Ph. chlamydospora were grown on solid media and the activities of extra-cellular amylases, lipases, proteases, cellulases, xylanases, laccase, polygalacturonase, pectate lyase, lignin peroxidase, manganese peroxidase, urease and chitinase were assayed. Phaeoacremonium species showed activities of a larger number of enzymes and also enzyme activity was frequently higher suggesting that Phaeoacremonium can be more virulent. To assay if the produced extra-cellular enzymes could reflect the virulence capacity of the two genera, calluses of Vitis vinifera L. (cvs. Baga and Maria Gomes) and of a rootstock (R3309) were inoculated with filtrated culture liquid medium of three isolates of Ph. chlamydospora and one of P. angustius. Filtrates from all strains decreased callus growth and membrane integrity, while soluble protein content of calluses decreased with the strains CAP 054 and 1AS. P. angtistius (CAP 054) induced the more severe symptoms in all genotypes. Water content decreased together with an increase of osmolality in both cultivars but not in rootstock suggesting that osmorregulatory capacity is more affected in cultivars. Data show that: (1) Phaeoacremonium and Phaeomoniella genera have different patterns of extra- cellular enzymatic production; (2) these fungi produce extracellular compound(s) that induce(s) senescence symptoms in plant cells inhibiting callus proliferation; (3) among the strains tested in plant calluses the most virulent isolate (CAP 054) also produced higher amounts of some extra-cellular enzymes; (5) rootstock calluses were less sensitive to inoculation than grapevine calluses. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.