The alternative sigma factor sigmaB modulates the stress response of several Gram-positive bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis and the food-borne human pathogens Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. In all these bacteria, sigmaB is responsible for the transcription of genes that can confer stress resistance to the vegetative cell. Recent findings indicate that sigmaB also plays an important role in antibiotic resistance, pathogenesis and cellular differentiation processes such as biofilm formation and sporulation. Although there are important differences in the regulation of sigmaB and in the set of genes regulated by sigmaB in B. subtilis, B. cereus, L. monocytogenes and S. aureus, there are also some conserved themes. A mechanistic understanding of the sigmaB activation processes and assessment of its regulon could provide tools for pathogen control and inactivation both in the food industry and clinical settings.