Major antioxidant responses to increased levels of inflammatory, oxidative and nitrosative stress (ONS) are detailed. In response to increasing levels of nitric oxide, S-nitrosylation of cysteine thiol groups leads to post-transcriptional modification of many cellular proteins and thereby regulates their activity and allows cellular adaptation to increased levels of ONS. S-nitrosylation inhibits the function of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells, toll-like receptor-mediated signalling and the activity of several mitogen-activated protein kinases, while activating nuclear translocation of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2 or NFE2L2); in turn, the redox-regulated activation of Nrf2 leads to increased levels and/or activity of key enzymes and transporter systems involved in the glutathione system. The Nrf2/Kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 axis is associated with upregulation of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1, which in turn has anti-inflammatory effects. Increased Nrf2 transcriptional activity also leads to activation of haem oxygenase-1, which is associated with upregulation of bilirubin, biliverdin and biliverdin reductase as well as increased carbon monoxide signalling, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Associated transcriptional responses, which may be mediated by retrograde signalling owing to elevated hydrogen peroxide, include the unfolded protein response (UPR), mitohormesis and the mitochondrial UPR; the UPR also results from increasing levels of mitochondrial and cytosolic reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species leading to nitrosylation, glutathionylation, oxidation and nitration of crucial cysteine and tyrosine causing protein misfolding and the development of endoplasmic reticulum stress. It is shown how these mechanisms co-operate in forming a co-ordinated rapid and prolonged compensatory antioxidant response system.