The proper detection and repair of DNA damage is essential to the maintenance of genomic stability. The genome is particularly vulnerable during DNA replication, when endogenous and exogenous events can hinder replication fork progression. Stalled replication forks can fold into deleterious conformations and are also unstable structures that are prone to collapse or break. These events can lead to inappropriate processing of the DNA, ultimately resulting in genomic instability, chromosomal alterations and cancer. To cope with stalled replication forks, the cell relies on the replication checkpoint to block cell cycle progression, downregulate origin firing, stabilize the fork itself, and restart replication. The ATR (ATM and Rad3-related) kinase and its downstream effector kinase, Chk1, are central regulators of the replication checkpoint. Loss of these checkpoint proteins causes replication fork collapse and chromosomal rearrangements which may ultimately predispose affected individuals to cancer. This review summarizes our current understanding of how the ATR pathway recognizes and stabilizes stalled replication forks.