We previously identified a novel protein elicitor, PebC1, from Botrytis cinerea and described its enhancement of plant growth, drought tolerance and disease resistance in tomato. Here, we have investigated the defense-associated molecular responses in Arabidopsis thaliana after treatment with recombinant PebC1. PebC1 was expressed in Escherichia coli. Recombinant protein treatments improved plant resistance to Botrytis infection and maintained plant defenses for more than 21 days. The purified protein at 10 μg ml(-1) activated extracellular medium alkalization (pH) and reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide generation and also induced defense gene expression. Arabidopsis mutants that are insensitive to salicylic acid had increased resistance to Botrytis infection after PebC1 treatment but PebC1 did not affect the resistance of mutants with jasmonic acid and ethylene transduction pathways. The results suggest that PebC1 can function as an activator of plant disease resistance and can promote disease resistance to Botrytis in A. thaliana through the ethylene signal transduction pathway.