The mode of action of a potent elicitor, N-acetylchitooligosaccharide, in rice plants was examined. In intact seedlings, no significant uptake of the elicitor via the roots was observed within 3 h, whereas rapid uptake was observed in excised leaves. Rapid and transient expression of an elicitor-responsive gene, EL2, was induced in the leaves of intact seedlings sprayed with the elicitor or in the roots and leaves of intact seedlings by immersing roots in the elicitor solution. Histochemical analysis indicated that EL2 was expressed in cells exposed to the elicitor of root and leaves. In seedlings treated with the elicitor for 1 d or longer, hyphal growth of rice blast fungus was significantly delayed, and an accumulation of auto-fluorescence around the infection site was observed. Two defense-related genes, PR-1 and PR-10 (PBZ1), were induced in a systemic and local manner by elicitor treatment, in correlation with the induction of resistance against rice blast fungus. N-Acetylchitoheptaose did not inhibit the hyphal growth of the fungi. These results indicate the occurrence of systemic signal transmission from N-acetylchitooligosaccharide in rice plants.