Immune response during pathogen infection requires extensive transcription reprogramming. A fundamental mechanism of transcriptional regulation is histone acetylation. However, how pathogens interfere with this process to promote disease remains largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the cytoplasmic effector PsAvh23 produced by the soybean pathogen Phytophthora sojae acts as a modulator of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) in plants. PsAvh23 binds to the ADA2 subunit of the HAT complex SAGA and disrupts its assembly by interfering with the association of ADA2 with the catalytic subunit GCN5. As such, PsAvh23 suppresses H3K9 acetylation mediated by the ADA2/GCN5 module and increases plant susceptibility. Expression of PsAvh23 or silencing of GmADA2/GmGCN5 resulted in misregulation of defense-related genes, most likely due to decreased H3K9 acetylation levels at the corresponding loci. This study highlights an effective counter-defense mechanism by which a pathogen effector suppresses the activation of defense genes by interfering with the function of the HAT complex during infection.