The mediator complex is an essential link between transcription factors and RNA polymerase II, and mainly functions in the transduction of diverse signals to genes involved in different pathways. Limited information is available on the role of soybean mediator subunits in growth and development, and their participation in defense response regulation. Here, we performed genome-wide identification of the 95 soybean mediator subunits, which were unevenly localized on the 20 chromosomes and only segmental duplication events were detected. We focused on GmMED16-1, which is highly expressed in the roots, for further functional analysis. Transcription of GmMED16-1 was induced in response to Phytophthora sojae infection. Agrobacterium rhizogenes mediated soybean hairy root transformation was performed for the silencing of the GmMED16-1 gene. Silencing of GmMED16-1 led to an enhanced susceptibility phenotype and increased accumulation of P. sojae biomass in hairy roots of transformants. The transcript levels of NPR1, PR1a, and PR5 in the salicylic acid defense pathway in roots of GmMED16-1-silenced transformants were lower than those of empty-vector transformants. The results provide evidence that GmMED16-1 may participate in the soybean–P. sojae interaction via a salicylic acid-dependent process.