LSD1 was defined as a negative regulator of plant cell death and basal disease resistance based on its null mutant phenotypes. We addressed the relationship between lsd1-mediated runaway cell death and signaling components required for systemic acquired resistance (SAR), namely salicylic acid (SA) accumulation and NIM1/NPR1. We present two important findings. First, SA accumulation and NIM1/NPR1 are required for lsd1-mediated runaway cell death following pathogen infection or application of chemicals that mimic SA action. This implies that lsd1-dependent cell death occurs 'downstream' of the accumulation of SA. As SA application triggers runaway cell death in lsd1 but not wild-type plants, we infer that LSD1 negatively regulates an SA-dependent signal leading to cell death. Thus SA is both a trigger and a required mediator of lsd1 runaway cell death. Second, neither SA accumulation nor NIM1/NPR1 function is required for the basal resistance operating in lsd1. Therefore LSD1 negatively regulates a basal defense pathway that can act upstream or independently of both NIM1/NPR1 function and SA accumulation following avirulent or virulent pathogen challenge. Our data, together with results from other studies, point to the existence of an SA-dependent 'signal potentiation loop' controlling HR. Continued escalation of signaling in the absence of LSD1 leads to runaway cell death. We propose that LSD1 is a key negative regulator of this signal potentiation.