The SILENT INFORMATION REGULATOR2 (SIR2) family proteins are NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylases. Sir2 is involved in chromatin silencing at the mating-type loci, rDNA, and telomeres in yeast and is associated with lifespan extension in yeast, worms, and flies, but also in a broader range of additional functions. In this work, we investigated the role of OsSRT1, one of the two SIR2-related genes found in rice (Oryza sativa). We show that OsSRT1 is a widely expressed nuclear protein with higher levels in rapidly dividing tissues. OsSRT1 RNA interference induced an increase of histone H3K9 (lysine-9 of H3) acetylation and a decrease of H3K9 dimethylation, leading to H(2)O(2) production, DNA fragmentation, cell death, and lesions mimicking plant hypersensitive responses during incompatible interactions with pathogens, whereas overexpression of OsSRT1 enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress. Transcript microarray analysis revealed that the transcription of many transposons and retrotransposons in addition to genes related to hypersensitive response and/or programmed cell death was activated. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that OsSRT1 down-regulation induced histone H3K9 acetylation on the transposable elements and some of the hypersensitive response-related genes, suggesting that these genes may be among the primary targets of deacetylation regulated by OsSRT1. Our data together suggest that the rice SIR2-like gene is required for safeguard against genome instability and cell damage to ensure plant cell growth, but likely implicates different molecular mechanisms than yeast and animal homologs.