Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe chronic psychiatric disorder that has been associated with cellular dysfunctions related to mitochondria, neurotrophin levels, and oxidative stress. Evidence has shown that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress may be a common pathway of the cellular changes described in BD. In the present study we assessed unfolded protein response (UPR) and the effects of this cellular process on lymphocytes from patients with BD. We also evaluated whether the stage of chronicity of BD was associated with changes in UPR parameters. Cultured lymphocytes from 30 patients with BD and 32 age- and sex-matched controls were treated with tunicamycin, an ER stressor, for 12 or 24 h to measure levels of UPR-related proteins (GRP78, eIF2α-P, and CHOP) using flow cytometry, and for 48 h to analyse ER stress-induced cell death. In healthy controls but not in patients we found an increase in levels of GRP78, eIF2α-P, and CHOP after ER stress induction. In addition, tunicamycin-induced cell death was significantly higher in patients compared to controls. More importantly, early-stage patients did not differ from controls while the late-stage patients showed an impaired ER stress response. Thus, dysfunction in ER-related stress response may be associated with decreased cellular resilience in BD and illness progression.