This review describes the three mammalian glutathione transferase (GST) families, namely cytosolic, mitochondrial, and microsomal GST, the latter now designated MAPEG. Besides detoxifying electrophilic xenobiotics, such as chemical carcinogens, environmental pollutants, and antitumor agents, these transferases inactivate endogenous alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes, quinones, epoxides, and hydroperoxides formed as secondary metabolites during oxidative stress. These enzymes are also intimately involved in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes, prostaglandins, testosterone, and progesterone, as well as the degradation of tyrosine. Among their substrates, GSTs conjugate the signaling molecules 15-deoxy-delta(12,14)-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2) and 4-hydroxynonenal with glutathione, and consequently they antagonize expression of genes trans-activated by the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) and nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Through metabolism of 15d-PGJ2, GST may enhance gene expression driven by nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). Cytosolic human GST exhibit genetic polymorphisms and this variation can increase susceptibility to carcinogenesis and inflammatory disease. Polymorphisms in human MAPEG are associated with alterations in lung function and increased risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. Targeted disruption of murine genes has demonstrated that cytosolic GST isoenzymes are broadly cytoprotective, whereas MAPEG proteins have proinflammatory activities. Furthermore, knockout of mouse GSTA4 and GSTZ1 leads to overexpression of transferases in the Alpha, Mu, and Pi classes, an observation suggesting they are part of an adaptive mechanism that responds to endogenous chemical cues such as 4-hydroxynonenal and tyrosine degradation products. Consistent with this hypothesis, the promoters of cytosolic GST and MAPEG genes contain antioxidant response elements through which they are transcriptionally activated during exposure to Michael reaction acceptors and oxidative stress.