Sphingolipid metabolites such as long-chain base 1-phosphates (LCBPs) have been shown to play an important role in plants; however, little is known about their function in plant disease resistance and programmed cell death (PCD). In the present study, we cloned and identified two rice long-chain base kinase (LCBK) genes (OsLCBK1 and OsLCBK2), which are involved in biosynthesis of LCBPs, and performed functional analysis in transgenic tobacco. Expression of OsLCBK1 and OsLCBK2 was induced in rice seedlings after treatments with defense signaling molecules and after infection by Magnaporthe grisea, the causal agent of blast disease. Transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing OsLCBK1 were generated and disease resistance assays indicate that the OsLCBK1-overexpressing plants showed enhanced disease resistance against Pseudmonas syringae pv. tabacci, the causal agent of wildfire disease, and tobacco mosaic virus. Expression levels of some defense-related genes were constitutively up-regulated and further induced after pathogen infection in the OsLCBK1-overexpressing plants. Treatment with fungal toxin fumonisin B1, an effective inducer of PCD in plants, resulted in reduced level of cell death in the OsLCBK1-overexpressing plants, as indicated by cell death staining, leakage of electrolyte and expression of hypersensitive response indicator genes. These data suggest that rice LCBKs, probably through regulation of endogenous LCBP level, play important roles in disease resistance response and PCD in plants.