Plant ‘activators’, such as benzothiadiazole (BTH), protect plants from various diseases by priming the plant salicylic acid (SA) signalling pathway. We have reported previously that a transcription factor identified in rice, WRKY45 (OsWRKY45), plays a pivotal role in BTH-induced disease resistance by mediating SA signalling. Here, we report further functional characterization of WRKY45. Different plant activators vary in their action points, either downstream (BTH and tiadinil) or upstream (probenazole) of SA. Rice resistance to Magnaporthe grisea, induced by both types of plant activator, was markedly reduced in WRKY45-knockdown (WRKY45-kd) rice, indicating a universal role for WRKY45 in chemical-induced resistance. Fungal invasion into rice cells was blocked at most attempted invasion sites (pre-invasive defence) in WRKY45-overexpressing (WRKY45-ox) rice. Hydrogen peroxide accumulated within the cell wall underneath invading fungus appressoria or between the cell wall and the cytoplasm, implying a possible role for H2O2 in pre-invasive defence. Moreover, a hypersensitive reaction-like reaction was observed in rice cells, in which fungal growth was inhibited after invasion (post-invasive defence). The two levels of defence mechanism appear to correspond to Type I and II nonhost resistances. The leaf blast resistance of WRKY45-ox rice plants was much higher than that of other known blast-resistant varieties. WRKY45-ox plants also showed strong panicle blast resistance. BTH-induced resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae was compromised in WRKY45-kd rice, whereas WRKY45-ox plants were highly resistant to this pathogen. However, WRKY45-ox plants were susceptible to Rhizoctonia solani. These results indicate the versatility and limitations of the application of this gene.