Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides for controlling weeds and grasses. Due to its intensive use, it has become a serious contaminant in soil and water. To evaluate impact of atrazine on graminaceous crops, experiments focusing on atrazine accumulation and toxic response in rice (Oryza sativa) were carried out. Treatment with atrazine at 0.05-0.8 mg L(-1) for 6 d reduced elongation of shoot and root. Compared with a mock treatment, the elongation of shoot with atrazine was 67.1 percent of the control, whereas that of root was 79.5 percent, indicating that the shoot was more affected than the root. Atrazine was readily absorbed by rice from media. Although the quantitative absorption of atrazine was positively correlated with the external supply of the herbicide, translocation of atrazine from roots to the above-ground was reduced from 39.88±6.26 (at 0.05 mg L(-1)) to 9.25±0.27 (0.8 mg L(-1)). While accumulation of atrazine in rice plants led to toxic responses such as over-generation of hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anions, it triggered the plant defense system against the herbicide-induced oxidative stress. This was best presented by the enhanced activities of several antioxidant enzymes (e.g. superoxide dismutase, catalase and peroxidase) and expression of genes responsible for the tolerance to atrazine toxicity.