Metazoan genomes contain large numbers of genes that participate in responses to environmental stressors. We surveyed the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome for homologs of gene families thought to protect against chemical stressors; these genes collectively comprise the 'chemical defensome.' Chemical defense genes include cytochromes P450 and other oxidases, various conjugating enzymes, ATP-dependent efflux transporters, oxidative detoxification proteins, and transcription factors that regulate these genes. Together such genes account for more than 400 genes in the sea urchin genome. The transcription factors include homologs of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, hypoxia-inducible factor, nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2, heat shock factor, and nuclear hormone receptors, which regulate stress-response genes in vertebrates. Some defense gene families, including the ABCC, the UGT, and the CYP families, have undergone expansion in the urchin relative to other deuterostome genomes, whereas the stress sensor gene families do not show such expansion. More than half of the defense genes are expressed during embryonic or larval life stages, indicating their importance during development. This genome-wide survey of chemical defense genes in the sea urchin reveals evolutionary conservation of this network combined with lineage-specific diversification that together suggest the importance of these chemical stress sensing and response mechanisms in early deuterostomes. These results should facilitate future studies on the evolution of chemical defense gene networks and the role of these networks in protecting embryos from chemical stress during development.