Environmental injury has been associated with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, a response characterized by activation of the unfolded protein response, proteasomal degradation of proteins, and induction of HSPA5, also known as GRP78 or BiP. Although HSPA5 has been implicated in the stress response to environmental injury in several cell types, its role in the glomerular ER stress response is unknown. In this study, we evaluated HSPA5 activation profiles in rat glomerular mesangial cells (rGMCs) challenged with heavy metals (HgCl2 or Pb2 acetate) or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, ie, benzo(a)pyrene [BaP]). Challenge of rGMCs with 1 or 10 μM HgCl2 or Pb2 acetate increased HSPA5 mRNA and protein levels. The induction response was sensitive to transcriptional and translational inhibition by actinomycin D (AD) and cyclohexamide, respectively. HSPA5 mRNA was induced by 3 μM BaP in an AD-sensitive manner, but this response was unaffected by the presence of heavy metals. A promoter construct containing sequences that mediate thapsigargin (TH) inducibility of the HSPA5 promoter was refractory to both heavy metals and BaP. The HSPA5 induction response in rGMCs is conserved because it was reproduced with fidelity in immunolocalization experiments of HSPA5 protein in M15 and HEK293 cells in embryonic lines of murine and human origin, respectively. Collectively, these findings identify HSPA5 in the stress response of rGMCs and implicate regulatory mechanisms that are distinct from those involved in TH inducibility.