Lesion mimic mutants are powerful tools for unveiling the molecular connections between cell death and pathogen resistance. Various proteins responsible for lesion mimics have been identified; however, the mechanisms underlying lesion formation and pathogen resistance are still unknown. Here, we identify a lesion mimic mutant in rice, lesion mimic leaf 1 (lml1). The lml1 mutant exhibited abnormal cell death and resistance to both bacterial blight and rice blast. LML1 is expressed in all types of leaf cells, and encodes a novel eukaryotic release factor 1 (eRF1) protein located in the endoplasmic reticulum. Protein sequences of LML1 orthologs are conserved in yeast, animals and plants. LML1 can partially rescue the growth delay phenotype of the LML1 yeast ortholog mutant, dom34. Both lml1 and mutants of AtLML1 (the LML1 Arabidopsis ortholog) exhibited a growth delay phenotype like dom34. This indicates that LML1 and its orthologs are functionally conserved. LML1 forms a functional complex with a eukaryotic elongation factor 1A (eEF1A)-like protein, SPL33/LMM5.1, whose mutant phenotype was similar to the lml1 phenotype. This complex was conserved between rice and yeast. Our work provides new insight into understanding the mechanism of cell death and pathogen resistance, and also lays a good foundation for studying the fundamental molecular function of Pelota/DOM34 and its orthologs in plants.