Salicylic acid (SA) mediates plant defences against pathogens, accumulating in both infected and distal leaves in response to pathogen attack. Pathogenesis-related gene expression and the synthesis of defensive compounds associated with both local and systemic acquired resistance (LAR and SAR) in plants require SA. In Arabidopsis, exogenous application of SA suffices to establish SAR, resulting in enhanced resistance to a variety of pathogens. However, despite its importance in plant defence against pathogens, SA biosynthesis is not well defined. Previous work has suggested that plants synthesize SA from phenylalanine; however, SA could still be produced when this pathway was inhibited, and the specific activity of radiolabelled SA in feeding experiments was often lower than expected. Some bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa synthesize SA using isochorismate synthase (ICS) and pyruvate lyase. Here we show, by cloning and characterizing an Arabidopsis defence-related gene (SID2) defined by mutation, that SA is synthesized from chorismate by means of ICS, and that SA made by this pathway is required for LAR and SAR responses.