Bortezomib is an effective agent for treating multiple myeloma (MM). To investigate the underlying mechanisms associated with acquired resistance to this agent, we established two bortezomib-resistant MM cell lines, KMS-11/BTZ and OPM-2/BTZ, the 50% inhibitory concentration values of which were respectively 24.7- and 16.6-fold higher than their parental cell lines. No activation of caspase and BH3-only proteins such as Noxa was noted in bortezomib-resistant cells after exposure to the drug. The accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins was reduced in bortezomib-resistant cells compared with the parental cells, associated with avoidance of catastrophic ER stress as assessed by downregulation of CHOP expression. These resistant MM cells have a unique point mutation, G322A, in the gene encoding the proteasome beta5 subunit (PSMB5), likely resulting in conformational changes to the bortezomib-binding pocket of this subunit. KMS-11 parental cells transfected to express mutated PSMB5 also showed reduced bortezomib-induced apoptosis compared with those expressing wild-type PSMB5 or the parental cells. Expression of mutated PSMB5 was associated with the prevention of the accumulation of unfolded proteins. Thus, a fraction of MM cells may acquire bortezomib resistance by suppressing apoptotic signals through the inhibition of unfolded protein accumulation and subsequent excessive ER stress by a mutation of the PSMB5 gene.