The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) possesses the structural and functional features expected of an organelle that supports the integration and coordination of major cellular processes. Ca(2+) sequestered within the ER sustains lumenal protein processing while providing a reservoir of the cation to support stimulus-response coupling in the cytosol. Release of ER Ca(2+) sufficient to impair protein processing promotes ER stress and signals the "unfolded protein response" (UPR). The association of the UPR with an acute suppression of mRNA translational initiation and a longer term up-regulation of ER chaperones and partial translational recovery is discussed. Regulatory sites in mRNA translation and the mechanisms responsible for the early and later phases of the UPR are reviewed. The regulatory significance of GRP78/BiP, a multifunctional, broad-specificity ER chaperone, in the coordination of ER protein processing with mRNA translation during acute and chronic ER stress is addressed. The relationship of ER stress to protein misfolding in the cytoplasm is examined. Translational alterations in embryonic cardiomyocytes during treatments with various Ca(2+)-mobilizing, growth-promoting stimuli are described. The importance of ER Ca(2+) stores, ER chaperones, and cytosolic-free Ca(2+) in translational control and growth promotion by these stimuli is assessed. Some perspectives are provided regarding Ca(2+) as an integrating factor in the generation or diversion of metabolic energy. Circumstances impacting upon cellular adaptability during exposure to growth stimuli or during stressful conditions that require rapid adjustments in ATP for continued viability are considered.