Over the years, anthropogenic factors have led to cadmium (Cd) accumulation in the environment causing various health problems in humans. Although Cd is not a Fenton-like metal, it induces oxidative stress in various animal models via indirect mechanisms. The degree of Cd-induced oxidative stress depends on the dose, duration and frequency of Cd exposure. Also the presence or absence of serum in experimental conditions, type of cells and their antioxidant capacity, as well as the speciation of Cd are important determinants. At the cellular level, the Cd-induced oxidative stress either leads to oxidative damage or activates signal transduction pathways to initiate defence responses. This balance is important on how different organ systems respond to Cd stress and ultimately define the pathological outcome. In this review, we highlight the Cd-induced oxidant/antioxidant status as well as the damage versus signalling scenario in relation to Cd toxicity. Emphasis is addressed to Cd-induced pathologies of major target organs, including a section on cell proliferation and carcinogenesis. Furthermore, attention is paid to Cd-induced oxidative stress in undifferentiated stem cells, which can provide information for future therapies in preventing Cd-induced pathologies.