Light is a predominant factor in the control of plant growth, development and stress responses. Many biotic stress responses in plants are therefore specifically adjusted by the prevailing light conditions. The plant cell is equipped with sophisticated light-sensing mechanisms that are localised inside and outside of the chloroplast and the nucleus. Recent progress has provided models of how the signalling pathways that are involved in light perception and in defence could operate and interact to form a plant defence network. Such a signalling network includes systems to sense light and regulate gene expression. Photo-produced H(2)O(2) and other reactive oxygen species in the cell also play an essential role in this regulatory network, controlling biotic and abiotic stress responses.