Salicylic acid (SA) is a stress-induced hormone involved in the activation of defense genes. Here we analyzed the early genetic responses to SA of wild type and npr1-1 mutant Arabidopsis seedlings, using Complete Arabidopsis Transcriptome MicroArray (CATMAv2) chip. We identified 217 genes rapidly induced by SA (early SAIGs); 193 by a NPR1-dependent and 24 by a NPR1-independent pathway. These two groups of genes also differed in their functional classification, expression profiles and over-representation of cis-elements, supporting differential pathways for their activation. Examination of the expression patterns for selected early SAIGs from both groups indicated that their activation by SA required TGA2/5/6 subclass of transcription factors. These genes were also activated by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato AvrRpm1, suggesting that they might play a role in defense against bacteria. This study gives a global idea of the early response to SA in Arabidopsis seedlings, expanding our knowledge about SA function in plant defense.