The β-1,3-glucanase gene family is involved in a wide range of plant developmental processes as well as pathogen defense mechanisms. Comprehensive analyses of β-1,3-glucanase genes (GLUs) have not been reported in cotton. Here, we identified 67, 68, 130 and 158 GLUs in four sequenced cotton species, G. raimondii (D5), G. arboreum (A2), G. hirsutum acc. TM-1 (AD1), and G. barbadense acc. 3-79 (AD2), respectively. Cotton GLUs can be classified into the eight subfamilies (A-H), and their protein domain architecture and intron/exon structure are relatively conserved within each subfamily. Sixty-seven GLUs in G. raimondii were anchored onto 13 chromosomes, with 27 genes involved in segmental duplications, and 13 in tandem duplications. Expression patterns showed highly developmental and spatial regulation of GLUs in TM-1. In particular, the expression of individual member of GLUs in subfamily E was limited to roots, leaves, floral organs or fibers. Members of subfamily E also showed more protein evolution and subgenome expression bias compared with members of other subfamilies. We clarified that GLU42 and GLU43 in subfamily E were preferentially expressed in root and leaf tissues and significantly upregulated after Verticillium dahliae inoculation. Silencing of GLU42 and GLU43 significantly increased the susceptibility of cotton to V. dahliae.