Pilaji Rao Gaekwad (d. May 14 1732) was a Maratha general. He is considered to be the founder of the Gaekwad dynasty of the Maratha Empire, who became Maharaja of Baroda State.
He was the eldest son of Jhingojirao Kerojirao Gaekwad. He established himself at the fortress of Sonagad in 1726. He was appointed by the Peshwa, effective ruler of the Maratha Empire, to collect revenues from the territories in Gujarat.
He set about carving out a kingdom out of territories where he had been responsible for collecting the revenues on behalf of the Peshwa. He was granted the title of Sena Khas Khel by the Peshwa.
He was succeeded by his son Damajirao.