The Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) maintains homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and defends against ER stress, an underlying factor in various human diseases. During the UPR, numerous genes are activated that sustain and protect the ER. These responses are known to involve the canonical UPR transcription factors XBP1, ATF4, and ATF6. Here, we show in C. elegans that the conserved stress defense factor SKN-1/Nrf plays a central and essential role in the transcriptional UPR. While SKN-1/Nrf has a well-established function in protection against oxidative and xenobiotic stress, we find that it also mobilizes an overlapping but distinct response to ER stress. SKN-1/Nrf is regulated by the UPR, directly controls UPR signaling and transcription factor genes, binds to common downstream targets with XBP-1 and ATF-6, and is present at the ER. SKN-1/Nrf is also essential for resistance to ER stress, including reductive stress. Remarkably, SKN-1/Nrf-mediated responses to oxidative stress depend upon signaling from the ER. We conclude that SKN-1/Nrf plays a critical role in the UPR, but orchestrates a distinct oxidative stress response that is licensed by ER signaling. Regulatory integration through SKN-1/Nrf may coordinate ER and cytoplasmic homeostasis.