Sestrins (Sesns) are a family of highly conserved stress-responsive proteins, transcriptionally regulated by p53 and forkhead transcription factor that exhibit oxidoreductase activity in vitro and can protect cells from oxidative stress. However, their major biochemical and physiological function does not appear to depend on their redox (reduction and oxidation) activity. Sesns promote activation of adenosine-5′-monophosphate (AMP)-dependent protein kinase in both mammals and flies. Stress-induced Sesn expression results in inhibition of the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) and the physiological and pathological implications of disrupting the Sesns-TORC1 crosstalk are now being unravelled. Detailing their mechanism of action and exploring their roles in human physiology point to exciting new insights to topics as diverse as stress, cancer, metabolism and aging.