Introduced plant success often is attributed to release from natural enemies in their new ranges. However, herbivores may accumulate over time and reduce invasiveness but evidence for this process to date is weak. We report here that enemy release is indeed limited to the early stages of introduction of the Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum). In bioassays and gardens along a geographical gradient of time since tallow tree introduction, herbivory was highest and tree performance was poorest where tallow tree has been present longer (i.e. introduced earlier). Additionally, Asian ecotypes (grown from seeds collected in Asia) had lower survival than North American ecotypes (seeds collected in North America), which is consistent with genetic responses to low herbivory in the introduced range (EICA Hypothesis). Release from insect herbivores appears to contribute to early success of the tallow tree, but accumulation of insect herbivores has apparently reduced this benefit over time.