Populus euphratica Oliv. is a model tree for studying abiotic stress, especially salt stress response. Salt stress is one of the most extensive abiotic stresses, which has an adverse effect on plant growth and development. Salicylic acid (SA) is an important signaling molecule that plays an important role in modulating the plant responses to abiotic stresses. To answer whether the endogenous SA can be induced by salt stress, and whether SA effectively alleviates the negative effects of salt on poplar growth is the main purpose of the study. To elucidate the effects of SA and salt stress on the growth of P. euphratica, we examined the morphological and physiological changes of P. euphratica under 300 mM NaCl after treatment with different concentrations of SA. A pretreatment of P. euphratica with 0.4 mM SA for 3 days effectively improved the growth status of plants under subsequent salt stress. These results indicate that appropriate concentrations of exogenous SA can effectively counteract the negative effect of salt stress on growth and development. Subsequently, transcripts involved in salt stress response via SA signaling were captured by RNA sequencing. The results indicated that numerous specific genes encoding mitogen-activated protein kinase, calcium-dependent protein kinase, and antioxidant enzymes were upregulated. Potassium transporters and Na+/H+ antiporters, which maintain K+/Na+ balance, were also upregulated after SA pretreatment. The transcriptome changes show that the ion transport and antioxidant enzymes were the early enhanced systems in response of P. euphratica to salt via SA, expanding our knowledge about SA function in salt stress defense in P. euphratica. This provides a solid foundation for future study of functional genes controlling effective components in metabolic pathways of trees.