Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is of considerable interest to plant biologists because it occurs in plants subjected to adverse environmental conditions. ER stress responses mitigate the damage caused by stress and confer levels of stress tolerance to plants. ER stress is activated by misfolded proteins that accumulate in the ER under adverse environmental conditions. Under these conditions, the demand for protein folding exceeds the capacity of the system, which sets off the unfolded protein response (UPR). Two arms of the UPR signaling pathway have been described in plants: one that involves two ER membrane-associated transcription factors (bZIP17 and bZIP28) and another that involves a dual protein kinase (RNA-splicing factor IRE1) and its target RNA (bZIP60). Under mild or short-term stress conditions, signaling from IRE1 activates autophagy, a cell survival response. But under severe or chronic stress conditions, ER stress can lead to cell death.