Salicylic acid (SA), as an enigmatic signalling molecule in plants, has been intensively studied to elucidate its role in defence against biotic and abiotic stresses. This review focuses on recent research on the role of the SA signalling pathway in regulating cadmium (Cd) tolerance in plants under various SA exposure methods, including pre-soaking, hydroponic exposure, and spraying. Pretreatment with appropriate levels of SA showed a mitigating effect on Cd damage, whereas an excessive dose of exogenous SA aggravated the toxic effects of Cd. SA signalling mechanisms are mainly associated with modification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in plant tissues. Then, ROS, as second messengers, regulate a series of physiological and genetic adaptive responses, including remodelling cell wall construction, balancing the uptake of Cd and other ions, refining the antioxidant defence system, and regulating photosynthesis, glutathione synthesis and senescence. These findings together elucidate the expanding role of SA in phytotoxicology.