There is tremendous diversity of interactions between plants and other species. These relationships range from antagonism to mutualism. Interactions of plants with members of their ecological community can lead to a profound metabolic reconfiguration of the plants’ physiology. This reconfiguration can favour beneficial organisms and deter antagonists like pathogens or herbivores. Determining the cellular and molecular dialogue between plants, microbes, and insects, and its ecological and evolutionary implications is important for understanding the options for each partner to adopt an adaptive response to its biotic environment. Moving forward, understanding how such ecological interactions are shaped by environmental change and how we potentially mitigate deleterious effects will be increasingly important. The development of integrative multidisciplinary approaches may provide new solutions to the major ecological and societal issues ahead of us. The rapid evolution of technology provides valuable tools and opens up novel ways to test hypotheses that were previously unanswerable, but requires that scientists master these tools, understand potential ethical problems flowing from their implementation, and train new generations of biologists with diverse technical skills. Here, we provide brief perspectives and discuss future promise and challenges for research on insect–plant interactions building on the 16th International Symposium on Insect–Plant interactions (SIP) meeting that was held in Tours, France (2–6 July 2017). Talks, posters, and discussions are distilled into key research areas in insect–plant interactions, highlighting the current state of the field and major challenges, and future directions for both applied and basic research.