Histatin 5 (Hst 5) is a salivary cationic peptide that has toxicity for Candida albicans by inducing rapid cellular ion imbalance and cell volume loss. Microarray analyses of peptide-treated cells were used to evaluate global gene responses elicited by Hst 5. The major transcriptional response of C. albicans to Hst 5 was expression of genes involved in adaptation to osmotic stress, including production of glycerol (RHR2, SKO1, and PDC11) and the general stress response (CTA1 and HSP70). The oxidative-stress genes AHP1, TRX1, and GPX1 were mildly induced by Hst 5. Cell defense against Hst 5 was dependent on the Hog1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, since C. albicans hog1/hog1 mutants were significantly hypersensitive to Hst 5 but not to Mkc1 MAPK or Cek1 MAPK mutants. Activation of the high-osmolarity glycerol (HOG) pathway was demonstrated by phosphorylation of Hog1 MAPK as well as by glycerol production following Hst 5 treatment in a dose-dependent manner. C. albicans cells prestressed with sorbitol were less sensitive to subsequent Hst 5 treatment; however, cells treated concurrently with osmotic stress and Hst 5 were hypersensitive to Hst 5. In contrast, cells subjected to oxidative stress had no difference in sensitivity to Hst 5. These results suggest a common underlying cellular response to osmotic stress and Hst 5. The HOG stress response pathway likely represents a significant and effective challenge to physiological levels of Hst 5 and other toxic peptides in fungal cells.