Rice diseases such as blast (Magnaporthe oryzae), sheath blight (Rhizoctonia solani) and bacterial blight (Xanthomonas oryzae pv oryzae) are a major obstacle to achieving optimal yields. To complement conventional breeding method, molecular and transgenic method represents an increasingly important approach for genetic improvement of disease resistance and reduction of pesticide usage. During the past two decades, a wide variety of genes and mechanisms involved in rice defense response have been identified and elucidated. These include components of pathogen recognition, signal transduction, downstream defense-related proteins, and crosstalk among different signaling pathways. In addition, various molecular strategies including use of specialized promoters, modification of target protein structures have been studied and proposed to improve the effectiveness of transgenes. While genetically improving rice for enhanced disease resistance, it is important to consider potential effects of the transgene on rice yield, tolerance to abiotic stresses, and defense against other pathogens.