Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a multifactorial chronic metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycaemia. Several different mechanisms have been implicated in the development of the disease, including endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. ER stress is increasingly acknowledged as an important mechanism in the development of DM, not only for beta-cell loss but also for insulin resistance. Accumulating evidence suggests that ER stress-induced apoptosis may be an important mode of beta-cell loss and therefore important in the development of diabetes. Recent data also suggest a role of ER stress-induced apoptosis in liver and adipose tissue in relation to diabetes, but more extensive studies on human adipocyte and hepatocyte (patho)physiology and ER stress are needed to identify the exact interactions between environmental signals, ER stress and apoptosis in these organs.