Soft-rot diseases of plants attributed to Dickeya dadantii result from lysis of the plant cell wall caused by pectic enzymes released by the bacterial cell by a type II secretion system (T2SS). Arabidopsis thaliana can express several lines of defence against this bacterium. We employed bacterial mutants with defective envelope structures or secreted proteins to examine early plant defence reactions. We focused on the production of AtrbohD-dependent reactive oxygen species (ROS), callose deposition and cell death as indicators of these reactions. We observed a significant reduction in ROS and callose formation with a bacterial mutant in which genes encoding five pectate lyases (Pels) were disrupted. Treatment of plant leaves with bacterial culture filtrates containing Pels resulted in ROS and callose production, and both reactions were dependent on a functional AtrbohD gene. ROS and callose were produced in response to treatment with a cellular fraction of a T2SS-negative mutant grown in a Pels-inducing medium. Finally, ROS and callose were produced in leaves treated with purified Pels that had also been shown to induce the expression of jasmonic acid-dependent defence genes. Pel catalytic activity is required for the induction of ROS accumulation. In contrast, cell death observed in leaves infected with the wild-type strain appeared to be independent of a functional AtrbohD gene. It was also independent of the bacterial production of pectic enzymes and the type III secretion system (T3SS). In conclusion, the work presented here shows that D. dadantii is recognized by the A. thaliana innate immune system through the action of pectic enzymes secreted by bacteria at the site of infection. This recognition leads to AtrbohD-dependent ROS and callose accumulation, but not cell death.