The protein folding capabilities in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are disturbed by alternations in the cellular homeostasis such as the disruption of calcium ion homeostasis, the expression of mutated proteins and oxidative stress. In response to these ER dysfunctions, eukaryotic cells activate canonical branches of signal transduction cascades to restore the protein folding capacity and avoid irreversible damages, collectively termed the unfolded protein response (UPR). Prolonged ER dysfunctions and the downregulation of UPR signaling pathways have been accepted as a crucial trigger for the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, recent studies have revealed that the UPR has a wide spectrum of signaling pathways for unique physiological roles in the diverse developmental, differential and lipidomic processes. A developed and intricate ER network exists in the neurites of neurons. Neuronal ER functions and ER-derived signaling mediate efficient communication between cell soma and distal sites through local protein synthesis, sorting and lipogenesis. However, relevant of ER-derived UPR signaling pathways in the elaborate mechanisms regulating neuronal activities, synaptic functions and protective responses against injury is not fully elucidated. In this review, we summarized our current understanding of how the UPR functions provide the appropriate signals for neuronal capabilities. We also reviewed how UPR dysfunctions lead to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, and the possibilities ameliorating their toxic effects by targeting UPR components.