Abstract Although the ‘Economic Injury Level’ (EIL) concept belongs to the keystones of IPM theory, its applicability to all pest problems is believed not to be universal. Current IPM theory claims that the EIL concept is of limited use (i) in situations where an injury-damage function cannot be established, (ii) if pest monitoring is impossible or EIL is very low, and (iii) with preventive measures of pests and pathogens. In this work, I argue that the two latter points may not be true. First, within IPM all types of chemical treatment, including preventive ones, should be economically justified via calculation of EIL, based on the comparison of the cost of preventive and responsive control measures and the cost of the forecasted/expected damage. The ‘expected’ damage should be based on long-term (historical) damage records, manipulative experiments, risk assessment and biomathematical modelling of the evaluated pathosystem. Second, the absence of EIL in ‘preventively controlled pests’ hampers completion of the consistent Stern–Pedigo’s classification of pest organisms according to mutual position of EIL and General Equilibrium Position (GEP) or Stationary Distribution of Population Densities (SDPD).