Adult organs and their resident stem cells are constantly facing the challenge of adapting cell proliferation to tissue demand, particularly in response to environmental stresses. Whereas most stress-signaling pathways are conserved between progenitors and differentiated cells, stem cells have the specific ability to respond by increasing their proliferative rate, using largely unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that a member of the Sox family of transcription factors in Drosophila, Sox21a, is expressed in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) in the adult gut. Sox21a is essential for the proliferation of these cells during both normal epithelium turnover and repair. Its expression is induced in response to tissue damage, downstream of the Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathways, to promote ISC proliferation. Although short-lived, Sox21a mutant flies show no developmental defects, supporting the notion that this factor is a specific regulator of adult stem cell proliferation.