In response to stress, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) signaling machinery triggers the inhibition of protein synthesis and up-regulation of genes whose products are involved in protein folding, cell cycle exit, and/or apoptosis. We demonstrate that the misfolding agents azetidine-2-carboxylic acid (Azc) and tunicamycin initiate signaling from the ER, resulting in the activation of Jun-N-terminal kinase, p44(MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1 (ERK-1), and p38(MAPK) through IRE1alpha-dependent mechanisms. To characterize the ER proximal signaling events involved, immuno-isolated ER membranes from rat fibroblasts treated with ER stress inducers were used to reconstitute the activation of the stress-activated protein kinase/mitogen-activate protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in vitro. This allowed us to demonstrate a role for the SH2/SH3 domain containing adaptor Nck in ERK-1 activation after Azc treatment. We also show both in vitro and in vivo that under basal conditions ER-associated Nck represses ERK-1 activation and that upon ER stress this pool of Nck dissociates from the ER membrane to allow ERK-1 activation. Moreover, under the same conditions, Nck-null cells elicit a stronger ERK-1 activation in response to Azc stress, thus, correlating with an enhanced survival phenotype. These data delineate a novel mechanism for the regulation of ER stress signaling to the MAPK pathway and demonstrate a critical role for Nck in ER stress and cell survival.