Several years have passed since NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) was demonstrated to regulate the induction of genes encoding antioxidant proteins and phase 2 detoxifying enzymes. Following a number of studies, it was realized that Nrf2 is a key factor for cytoprotection in various aspects, such as anticarcinogenicity, neuroprotection, antiinflammatory response, and so forth. These widespread functions of Nrf2 spring from the coordinated actions of various categories of target genes. The activation mechanism of Nrf2 has been studied extensively. Under normal conditions, Nrf2 localizes in the cytoplasm where it interacts with the actin binding protein, Kelch-like ECH associating protein 1 (Keap1), and is rapidly degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Signals from reactive oxygen species or electrophilic insults target the Nrf2-Keap1 complex, dissociating Nrf2 from Keap1. Stabilized Nrf2 then translocates to the nuclei and transactivates its target genes. Interestingly, Keap1 is now assumed to be a substrate-specific adaptor of Cul3-based E3 ubiquitin ligase. Direct participation of Keap1 in the ubiquitination and degradation of Nrf2 is plausible. The Nrf2-Keap1 system is present not only in mammals, but in fish, suggesting that its roles in cellular defense are conserved throughout evolution among vertebrates. This review article recounts recent knowledge of the Nrf2-Keap1 system, focusing especially on the molecular mechanism of Nrf2 regulation.