Higher plants undergo a variety of stresses and to combat those stresses they acclimatize themselves by producing diverse secondary metabolites. These secondary metabolites also have a wide range of industrial applications and hence they serve as candidates for commercialization. Owing to the constraints faced by natural plant extraction, plant cell/tissue culture has emerged as an alternative platform for the in vitro production of value added bioactive secondary metabolites. Implementation of several productivity enhancement strategies, including elicitation, can overcome the limitations faced by plant cell technology that hampers its extensive commercialization. Elicitation is a technique that involves exogenous addition of elicitors (abiotic or biotic) in the growth medium which consequently triggers stress response with concomitant enhancement in secondary metabolite production. Elicitor induced stress results in the activation of several defense-related genes or inactivation of non-defense-related genes, transient phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of proteins, expression of enzymes whose information can be used to ascertain the biosynthetic pathways of many secondary metabolites. Furthermore, integration of transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics with system biology can aid in discovery of novel genes, transcriptional factors and several biosynthetic pathways which in turn can serve as a valuable tool for metabolic engineering and gene manipulation for enhancing the yield and productivity of secondary metabolites. © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.