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This study demonstrates that soybean cultivars respond differentially to damage in a herbivore-specific manner, and trigger responses decreasing herbivore performance. Soybean crops are affected by a great number of insect herbivores, resulting in devastating yield losses. Secondary metabolites like proteinase inhibitors and phenolic compounds are part of plants’ defense mechanisms against insect pests. However, the specificity of soybean defense responses to different attacking herbivores is poorly known. To investigate species-specific foliage responses to herbivory, we used two different commercial soybean cultivars (DM 4210 and DM 5.8i) widely used in Argentina with diverse susceptibility to insects’ attack and two species of phytophagous insects, thrips (Caliothrips phaseoli; Thysanoptera) and lepidopteran larvae (Spodoptera frugiperda; Lepidoptera) with a different way of feeding. Benzoic acid derivative levels were increased by damage of both insect species in the foliage of the field-grown soybean cultivars, whereas trypsin protease inhibitors activity was induced in cultivar (cv) DM 4210 by fall armyworm damage and malonyl genistein content in cv DM 5.8i after thrips’ attack. Although survivorship and mass of fall armyworm larvae were not differentially affected in field conditions by soybean cultivars, larvae reared in the laboratory that fed on cv DM 5.8i gained more mass than those on DM 4210. Conversely, thrips performance, natural colonization, and preference of feeding were higher on cv DM 4210 than on cv DM 5.8i. The differential effects of soybean cultivars on insectspecies’ performance were explained not only by induced defenses, but also by differences of constitutive defenses between cultivars. This study demonstrated that soybean cultivars responded differentially to damage in a herbivore-specific manner, and triggered responses decreased herbivore performance.