Fires are among the most globally important disturbances in forest ecosystems. Forest fires can be followed by bark beetle outbreaks. Therefore, the dynamic interactions between bark beetle outbreaks and fire appear to be of general importance in coniferous forests throughout the world. We tested three hypotheses of how forest fires in pine ecosystems (Pinus pinaster Alton and P. radiata D. Don) in Spain could alter the population dynamics of bark beetles and influence the probability of further disturbance from beetle outbreaks: fire could affect the antiherbivore resin defenses of trees, change their nutritional suitability, or affect top-down controls on herbivore populations. P. radiata defenses decreased immediately after fire, but trees with little crown damage soon recovered with defenses higher than before. Fire either reduced or did not affect nutritional quality of phloem and either reduced or had no effect on the abundance, diversity, and relative biomass of natural enemies. After fire, bark beetle abundance increased via rapid aggregation of reproductive adults on scorched trees. However, our results indicate that for populations to increase to an outbreak situation, colonizing beetles must initiate attacks before tree resin defenses recover, host trees must retain enough undamaged phloem to facilitate larval development, and natural enemies should be sufficiently rare to permit high beetle recruitment into the next generation. Coincidence of these circumstances may promote the possibility of beetle populations escaping to outbreak levels.