Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are important regulators of plant immunity. Most of the knowledge about the function of these pathways is derived from loss-of-function approaches. Using a gain-of-function approach, we investigated the responses controlled by a constitutively active (CA) MPK3 in Arabidopsis thaliana. CA-MPK3 plants are dwarfed and display a massive de-repression of defense genes associated with spontaneous cell death as well as accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), phytoalexins and the stress-related hormones ethylene and salicylic acid (SA). Remarkably CA-MPK3/sid2 and CA-MPK3/ein2-50 lines which are impaired in SA synthesis and ethylene signaling, respectively, retain most of the CA-MPK3-associated phenotypes, indicating that constitutive activity of MPK3 can bypass SA and ethylene signaling to activate defense responses. A comparative analysis of the molecular phenotypes of CA-MPK3 and mpk4 autoimmunity suggested convergence between the MPK3 and MPK4-guarding modules. In support of this model, CA-MPK3 crosses with summ1 and summ2, two known suppressors of mpk4, resulted in a partial reversion of the CA-MPK3 phenotypes. Overall, our data unravel a novel mechanism by which the MAPK signaling network contributes to a robust defense response system.