Forty-seven paired soil and rice cultivar samples were collected from Jiangxi province, China. The contents of Cd, Cu, Zn, Pb, Cr, and Ni in soils and grains were determined. It showed that among these metals, Cr and Cd were the dominant contaminants in samples from the test areas, with 100.0% and 59.6% of all grain samples exceeding the maximum permissible concentration. Random forest analysis showed that soil pH, soil organic matter (SOM), Fe fraction and cultivar were four most important factors affecting HMs accumulation in grain. Based on bioconcentration factors, two cultivars with high Cd (HCd) accumulation ability and two cultivars with low Cd (LCd) accumulation ability in rice grain were chosen to explore their physiological and growth responses when exposed to 0, 50, 100 and 1000 μmol L-1 Cd. The results showed that the Cd phytotoxicity is Cd level- and cultivar-dependent. The height and weight decreased, while Cd accumulation increased in shoot and root for the four rice cultivars with the increasing of Cd content. The HCd cultivars showed less membrane damage, higher superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and higher Cd accumulation than that of LCd cultivars. In conclusion, heavy metal accumulation in rice grain is soil property- and cultivar-dependent. And different rice cultivars respond differently to Cd stress.