Cadmium (Cd), a potent hepatotoxin, has been reported to induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in various cell types. However, whether such effect exists in bird is still unclear. To delineate the effects of Cd exposure on ER stress response, we examined the expression of 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78) and alteration in calcium homeostasis in primary chicken hepatocytes treated with 2-22 µM Cd for 24 h. A significant decrease of cell viability was observed in chicken hepatocytes following Cd administration. In cells treated with Cd, GRP78 protein levels increased in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, GRP78 and GRP94mRNA levels were elevated in response to Cd exposure. The increase of the intracellular Ca(2+) concentration in chicken hepatocytes was found during Cd exposure. Cd significantly decreased the CaM mRNA levels in hepatocytes. These results show that Cd regulates the expression of GRP78 and calcium homeostasis in chicken hepatocytes, suggesting that ER stress induced by Cd plays an important role in the mechanisms of Cd cytotoxicity to the bird hepatocytes.