Seedlings of cultivated rice variety ADT43 was investigated after challenging with two different abiotic (drought and salinity) and biotic (sheath blight and bacterial leaf blight pathogens) stresses. Salinity and drought stress reduced the growth of seedlings, mainly the higher conditions (100 mM NaCl and 10 days of drought, respectively). Increased level of MDA content was observed in biotic and abiotic-stress treated seedlings. The highest H2O2 content was observed under salinity-stressed seedlings and lower level observed under biotic stress. Superoxide dismutase activity showed a gradual decrease in all stress conditions compared to control. Salinity stress resulted in highest activity of catalase compared to biotic stress. The peroxidase activity of the seedlings was found to be increased under salt and drought stress conditions and the activity decreased under biotic stress. Drought stress resulted in induced expression of POC1 gene whereas the biotic stress showed lower expression level. Suppression of the rice peroxidase would have been the mechanism of overcoming the intrinsic defence in rice by these pathogens. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.