The synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3, 12-dioxooleana-1, 9(11)-dien-C28-methyl ester (CDDO-Me) is considered a promising anti-tumorigenic compound. In this study, we show that treatment with CDDO-Me induces progressive endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived vacuolation in various breast cancer cells and ultimately kills these cells by inducing apoptosis. We found that CDDO-Me-induced increases in intracellular Ca2+ levels, reflecting influx from the extracellular milieu, make a critical contribution to ER-derived vacuolation and subsequent cell death. In parallel with increasing Ca2+ levels, CDDO-Me markedly increased the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Interestingly, there exists a reciprocal positive-regulatory loop between Ca2+ influx and ROS generation that triggers ER stress and ER dilation in response to CDDO-Me. In addition, CDDO-Me rapidly reduced the protein levels of c-FLIPL (cellular FLICE-inhibitory protein) and overexpression of c-FLIPL blocked CDDO-Me-induced cell death, but not vacuolation. These results suggest that c-FLIPL downregulation is a key contributor to CDDO-Me-induced apoptotic cell death, independent of ER-derived vacuolation. Taken together, our results show that ER-derived vacuolation via Ca2+ influx and ROS generation as well as caspase activation via c-FLIPL downregulation are responsible for the potent anticancer effects of CDDO-Me on breast cancer cells.