The plant cell wall has many significant structural and physiological roles, but the contributions of the various components to these roles remain unclear. Modification of cell wall properties can affect key agronomic traits such as disease resistance and plant growth. The plant cell wall is composed of diverse polysaccharides often decorated with methyl, acetyl, and feruloyl groups linked to the sugar subunits. In this study, we examined the effect of perturbing cell wall acetylation by making transgenic Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon) plants expressing hemicellulose- and pectin-specific fungal acetylesterases. All transgenic plants carried highly expressed active Aspergillus nidulans acetylesterases localized to the apoplast and had significant reduction of cell wall acetylation compared with wild-type plants. Partial deacetylation of polysaccharides caused compensatory up-regulation of three known acetyltransferases and increased polysaccharide accessibility to glycosyl hydrolases. Transgenic plants showed increased resistance to the fungal pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Bipolaris sorokiniana but not to the bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas oryzae. These results demonstrate a role, in both monocot and dicot plants, of hemicellulose and pectin acetylation in plant defense against fungal pathogens.