Cells commonly use multiprotein kinase cascades to signal information from the cell membrane to the nucleus. Several conserved signaling pathways related to the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway allow cells to respond to normal developmental signals as well as signals produced under stressful conditions. Genetic and molecular studies in Drosophila melanogaster over the last several years have related that components of stress signaling pathways, namely the Jun kinase (JNK) and p38 kinase signaling modules, are functionally conserved and participate in numerous processes during normal development. Specifically, the JNK pathway is required for morphogenetic movements in embryogenesis and generation of tissue polarity in the adult. The role of the p38 pathway in generation of axial polarity during oogenesis has been inferred from phenotypic analysis of mutations in the Drosophila homolog of DMKK3. In addition to their requirement for normal development, cell culture and genetic investigations point to a role for both the JNK and p38 pathways in regulation of the immune response in the fly. This review details the known components of stress signaling pathways in Drosophila and recent insights into how these pathways are used and regulated during development and homeostasis.