Salicylic acid is an important signal molecule in plant defense. In the past two years, significant progress has been made in understanding the mechanism of salicylic-acid biosynthesis and signaling in plants. A pathway similar to that found in some bacteria synthesizes salicylic acid from chorismate via isochorismate. Salicylic-acid signaling is mediated by at least two mechanisms, one requiring the NON-EXPRESSOR OF PR1 (NPR1) gene and a second that is independent of NPR1. Feedback loops involving salicylic acid modulate upstream signals. These feedback loops may provide a point for integrating developmental, environmental and other defense-associated signals, and thus fine-tune the defense responses of plants.