Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are evolutionary conserved from unicellular to complex eukaryotic organisms, and constitute one of the major signalling pathways involved in regulating a wide range of cellular activities from growth and development to cell death. MAPKs of rice (Oryza sativa L.), the most important of all food crops and an established monocot plant research model, have seen considerable progress mainly on their identification and characterization during the past one year alone. These studies have provided new information on the response and regulation of rice MAPKs, in particular on their possible role/function in the rice self-defense pathways. It is believed that further work on MAPK cascades in rice will widen our understanding of the MAPK signalling pathways, and may lead to the establishment of a biological model on this critical early signalling event in monocots. In this review, we bring together all the recent developments in rice MAPKs and discuss their significance and future direction in light of the present data and the progress made in dicot model plants.