Low temperature is an environmental factor that affects plant growth and development and plant–pathogen interactions. How temperature regulates plant defense responses is not well understood. In this study, we characterized chilling-sensitive mutant 1 (chs1), and functionally analyzed the role of the CHS1 gene in plant responses to chilling stress. The chs1 mutant displayed a chilling-sensitive phenotype, and also displayed defense-associated phenotypes, including extensive cell death, the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and salicylic acid, and an increased expression of PR genes: these phenotypes indicated that the mutation in chs1 activates the defense responses under chilling stress. A map-based cloning analysis revealed that CHS1 encodes a TIR-NB-type protein. The chilling sensitivity of chs1 was fully rescued by pad4 and eds1, but not by ndr1. The overexpression of the TIR and NB domains can suppress the chs1–conferred phenotypes. Interestingly, the stability of the CHS1 protein was positively regulated by low temperatures independently of the 26S proteasome pathway. This study revealed the role of a TIR-NB-type gene in plant growth and cell death under chilling stress, and suggests that temperature modulates the stability of the TIR-NB protein in Arabidopsis.