Activation of the various mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways converts many different extracellular stimuli into specific cellular responses by inducing the phosphorylation of particular groups of substrates. One important determinant for substrate specificity is likely to be the amino-acid sequence surrounding the phosphorylation site; however, these sites overlap significantly between different MAP kinase family members. The idea is now emerging that specific docking sites for protein kinases are involved in the efficient binding and phosphorylation of some substrates    . The MAP kinase-activated protein (MAPKAP) kinase p90 rsk contains two kinase domains : the amino-terminal domain (D1) is required for the phosphorylation of exogenous substrates whereas the carboxy-terminal domain (D2) is involved in autophosphorylation. Association between the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) MAP kinases and p90(rsk) family members has been detected in various cell types including Xenopus oocytes   , where inactive p90(rsk) is bound to the inactive form of the Erk2- like MAP kinase p42(mpk1). Here, we identify a new MAP kinase docking site located at the carboxyl terminus of p90(rsk). This docking site was required for the efficient phosphorylation and activation of p90(rsk) in vitro and in vivo and was also both necessary and sufficient for the stable and specific association with p42(mpk1). The sequence of the docking site was conserved in other MAPKAP kinases, suggesting that it might represent a new class of interaction motif that facilitates efficient and specific signal transduction by MAP kinases.