It has been established that intracellular calcium homeostasis is critical for survival and function of pancreatic β-cells. However, the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium homeostasis in β-cell survival and death is not clear. Here we show that ER calcium depletion plays a critical role in β-cell death. Various pathological conditions associated with β-cell death, including ER stress, oxidative stress, palmitate, and chronic high glucose, decreased ER calcium levels and sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca 2+-ATPase 2b expression, leading to β-cell death. Ectopic expression of mutant insulin and genetic ablation of WFS1, a causative gene for Wolfram syndrome, also decreased ER calcium levels and induced β-cell death. Hyperactivation of calpain-2, a calcium-dependent proapoptotic protease, was detected in β-cells undergoing ER calcium depletion. Ectopic expression of sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2b, as well as pioglitazone and rapamycin treatment, could prevent calcium efflux from the ER and mitigate β-cell death under various stress conditions. Our results reveal a critical role of ER calcium depletion in β-cell death and indicate that identification of pathways and chemical compounds restoring ER calcium levels will lead to novel therapeutic modalities and pharmacological interventions for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and other ER-related diseases including Wolfram syndrome.