Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean is a complex of root rot disease caused by the semi-biotrophic fungus Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines (Fsg) and a leaf scorch disease caused by toxins produced by the pathogen in the roots. Development of partial rate-reducing resistance in roots to SDS was studied. The recombinant inbred line 23 (RIL23) that carried resistance conferred by six quantitative trait loci (QTL) derived from cultivars 'Essex' x 'Forrest' was compared to the susceptible cultivar Essex. Roots of RIL23 and its susceptible parent Essex were inoculated with Fsg. Transcript abundance (TA) of 191 ESTs was studied at five time points after inoculation. For most of the genes, there was an initial decrease in TA in the inoculated roots of both genotypes. By days 7 and 10 the inoculated roots of Essex failed to increase expression of the transcripts of defense-related genes. In RIL23 inoculated roots, the TA of 81 genes was increased by at least two-fold at day 3 (P=0.004), 88 genes at day 7 (P=0.0023) and 129 genes at day 10 (P=0.0026). A set of 35 genes maintained at least a two-fold higher abundance at all three time points. The increase in TA in RIL23 was in contrast to that observed in Essex where most of the ESTs showed either no change or a decreased TA. The ESTs with an increased TA had homology to the genes involved in resistance (analogs), signal transduction, plant defense, cell wall synthesis and transport of metabolites. Pathways that responded included the protein phosphorylation cascade, the phospholipase cascade and the phenolic natural products pathways, including isoflavone and cell wall synthesis.