Taxus chinensis var. mairei is a species endemic to south-eastern China and one of the natural sources for the anticancer medicine paclitaxel. To investigate the molecular response and defense mechanisms of T. chinensis leaves to enhanced ultraviolet-A (UV-A) radiation, gel-free/label-free and gel-based proteomics and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses were performed. The transmission electron microscopy results indicated damage to the chloroplast under UV-A radiation. Proteomics analyses in leaves and chloroplasts showed that photosynthesis-, glycolysis-, secondary metabolism-, stress-, and protein synthesis-, degradation- and activation-related systems were mainly changed under UV-A radiation. Forty-seven PSII proteins and six PSI proteins were identified as being changed in leaves and chloroplasts under UV-A treatment. This indicated that PSII was more sensitive to UV-A than PSI as the target of UV-A light. Enhanced glycolysis, with four glycolysis-related key enzymes increased, provided precursors for secondary metabolism. The 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase and 4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate reductase were identified as being significantly increased during UV-A radiation, which resulted in paclitaxel enhancement. Additionally, mRNA expression levels of genes involved in the paclitaxel biosynthetic pathway indicated a down-regulation under UV-A irradiation and up-regulation in dark incubation. These results reveal that a short-term high dose of UV-A radiation could stimulate the plant stress defense system and paclitaxel production.