WRKY proteins are a large family of transcription factors that mainly participate in plant biotic stress responses. So far, one hundred and five OsWRKY genes have been predicted in the rice genome. To identify OsWRKY genes that might function in inducible defense responses, a phylogenetic tree including 184 WRKY proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana, rice, and other species was constructed. Based on the phylogenetic analysis, ten candidate OsWRKY genes that may be involved in defense responses were isolated from salicylic acid (SA)-treated rice seedlings. One of them, OsWRKY71, was up-regulated by several defense signaling molecules, such as SA, methyl jasmonate (MeJA), 1-aminocyclo-propane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), as well as wounding and pathogen infection, suggesting that OsWRKY71 might function in rice biotic stress response. Transient expression of OsWRKY71:GFP fusion protein in onion epidermis cells revealed that OsWRKY71 was localized in the nucleus. Overexpression of OsWRKY71 gene in rice resulted in enhanced resistance to virulent bacterial pathogens Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) 13751. Furthermore, two marker genes in defense signaling pathway, OsNPR1 and OsPR1b, were constitutively expressed in OsWRKY71-overexpressing transgenic plants. These results suggest that OsWRKY71 might function as a transcriptional regulator upstream of OsNPR1 and OsPR1b in rice defense signaling pathways.