In cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) high glucose (HG) stimulation will lead to significant cell death. Bardoxolone-methyl (BARD) is a NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) agonist. In this study we show that BARD, at only nM concentrations, activated Nrf2 signaling in HUVECs. BARD induced Keap1-Nrf2 disassociation, Nrf2 protein stabilization and nuclear translocation, increasing expression of antioxidant response element (ARE) genes. BARD pretreatment in HUVECs inhibited HG-induced reactive oxygen species production, oxidative injury and cell apoptosis. Nrf2 shRNA or knockout (using a CRISPR/Cas9 construct) reversed BARD-induced cytoprotection in HG-stimulated HUVECs. Conversely, forced activation of Nrf2 cascade by Keap1 shRNA mimicked BARD’s activity and protected HUVECs from HG. Importantly, BARD failed to offer further cytoprotection against HG in the Keap1-silened HUVECs. Taken together, Keap1-Nrf2 cascade activation by BARD protects HUVECs from HG-induced oxidative injury.