The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) genes encode transcription factors involved in the regulation of various biological processes. Similar to WRKY, basic helix-loop-helix, and several other groups of proteins, the bZIP proteins form a superfamily of transcription factors that mediate plant stress responses. In this review, we present the roles of bZIP proteins in multiple biological processes that include pathogen defense; responses to abiotic stresses; seed development and germination; senescence; and responses to salicylic, jasmonic, and abscisic acids in rice. We also examined the characteristics of the bZIP proteins and their genetic composition. To ascertain the evolutionary changes in and functions of this supergene family, we performed an exhaustive comparison among the 89 rice bZIP genes that were previously described and those more recently listed in the MSU Rice Genome Annotation Project Database using a Hidden Markov Model. We excluded 3 genes from the list, resulting in a total of 86 bZIP genes in japonica rice.