Stress is the imbalance of homeostasis, which can be sensed even at the subcellular level. The stress-sensing capability of various organelles including the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) has been described. It has become evident that acute or prolonged ER stress plays an important role in many human diseases; especially those involving organs/tissues specialized in protein secretion. This article summarizes the emerging role of ER stress in diverse human pathophysiological conditions such as carcinogenesis and tumor progression, cerebral ischemia, plasma cell maturation and apoptosis, obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Certain components of the ER stress response machinery are identified as biomarkers of the diseases or as possible targets for therapeutic intervention.