When the load of secretory pathway is increased or folding capacity in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is insufficient, unfolded proteins might accumulate in ER lumen causing a phenomenon called ER stress. During ER stress, normal cell functions are suppressed and unfolded protein response (UPR) is induced. Studies in animal systems suggest that melatonin alleviates the detrimental effects of ER stress; however, there is no study in plants in this respect. Hence, in this study, we investigated the possible role of melatonin on alleviation of ER stress in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Tunicamycin (Tm) was used to specifically induce ER stress. Melatonin treatment (10 and 25 mu M but not 1 mu M) increased root growth under Tm treatment, but it did not reach control levels. ER stress induced the expressions of ER stress sensor/transducer genes, ER chaperones and folding helper genes, ER-associated degradation (ERAD) genes, and ER stress-associated apoptosis genes in roots and shoots (a total of 16 genes). Among them, the expressions of ER stress sensor/transducer bZIP17, bZIP28, IRE1A, IRE1B, ERAD-related SEL1, and apoptosis genes AGB1 were decreased back to control levels with 25 mu M melatonin under ER stress in roots. Moreover, Tm + melatonin treatments decreased the expressions of these genes when compared to only Tm-treated plants. Downregulation of UPR components with increased concentrations of melatonin under Tm treatment demonstrated that melatonin alleviated the detrimental effects of ER stress.