Here we report that paclitaxel induces variable degrees of apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells. Paclitaxel induces multiple arms of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response, including upregulation of the 78-kDa glucose-regulatory protein (GRP78) and eukaryotic initiation factor [alpha] phosphorylation. Inhibition of the MEK/ERK pathway sensitized colorectal cancer cells to paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. A similar result was obtained by the inhibition of GRP78 using small interfering RNA molecules. Knockdown of MEK resulted in a significant downregulation of paclitaxel-induced upregulation of GRP78 indicating that activation of GRP78 is a downstream event of MEK/ERK pathway activation. These results indicate that GRP78 might be a novel mechanism underlying the resistance of colorectal cancer cells to microtubule-targeting drugs. A combination of compounds capable of suppressing GRP78 might be a golden approach for improving the effectiveness of taxanes.