Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) play a crucial role in the communication of plants with other organisms and are possible mediators of plant defence against phytopathogens. Although the role of non-volatile secondary metabolites has been largely characterised in resistant genotypes, the contribution of VOCs to grapevine defence mechanisms against downy mildew (caused by Plasmopara viticola) has not yet been investigated. In this study, more than 50 VOCs from grapevine leaves were annotated/identified by headspace-solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis. Following P. viticola inoculation, the abundance of most of these VOCs was higher in resistant (BC4, Kober 5BB, SO4 and Solaris) than in susceptible (Pinot noir) genotypes. The post-inoculation mechanism included the accumulation of 2-ethylfuran, 2-phenylethanol, β-caryophyllene, β-cyclocitral, β-selinene and trans-2-pentenal, which all demonstrated inhibitory activities against downy mildew infections in water suspensions. Moreover, the development of downy mildew symptoms was reduced on leaf disks of susceptible grapevines exposed to air treated with 2-ethylfuran, 2-phenylethanol, β-cyclocitral or trans-2-pentenal, indicating the efficacy of these VOCs against P. viticola in receiver plant tissues. Our data suggest that VOCs contribute to the defence mechanisms of resistant grapevines and that they may inhibit the development of downy mildew symptoms on both emitting and receiving tissues.