Jasmonic acid (JA) and its derivatives (jasmonates, JAs) are phytohormones with essential roles in plant defense against pathogenesis and herbivorous arthropods. Both the up- and down-regulation of defense responses are dependent on signaling pathways mediated by JAs as well as other stress hormones (e.g. salicylic acid), generally those involving the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of transcription factors via protein modification and epigenetic regulation. In addition to the typical model plant Arabidopsis (a dicotyledon), advances in genetics research have made rice a model monocot in which innovative pest control traits can be introduced and whose JA signaling pathway can be studied. In this review, we introduce the dynamic functions of JAs in plant defense strategy using defensive substances (e.g. indole alkaloids and terpenoid phytoalexins) and airborne signals (e.g. green leaf volatiles and volatile terpenes) in response to biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens as well as above-ground and below-ground herbivores. We then discuss the important issue of how the mutualism of herbivorous arthropods with viruses or bacteria can cause cross-talk between JA and other phytohormones to counter the defense systems.