Many microarray and suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) studies have analyzed the effects of environmental stress on gene transcription in marine species. However, there have been no unifying analyses of these data to identify common stress response pathways. To address this shortfall, we conducted a meta-analysis of 14 studies that investigated the effects of different environmental stressors on gene expression in oysters. The stressors tested included chemical contamination, hypoxia and infection, as well as extremes of temperature, pH and turbidity. We found that the expression of over 400 genes in a range of oyster species changed significantly after exposure to environmental stress. A repeating pattern was evident in these transcriptional responses, regardless of the type of stress applied. Many of the genes that responded to environmental stress encoded proteins involved in translation and protein processing (including molecular chaperones), the mitochondrial electron transport chain, anti-oxidant activity and the cytoskeleton. In light of these findings, we put forward a consensus model of sub-cellular stress responses in oysters.