MAP kinases help to mediate diverse processes ranging from transcription of protooncogenes to programmed cell death. More than a dozen mammalian MAP kinase family members have been discovered and include, among others, the well studied ERKs and several stress-sensitive enzymes. MAP kinases lie within protein kinase cascades. Each cascade consists of no fewer than three enzymes that are activated in series. Cascades convey information to effectors, coordinates incoming information from other signaling pathways, amplify signals, and allow for a variety of response patterns. Subcellular localization of enzymes in the cascades is an important aspect of their mechanisms of action and contributes to cell-type and ligand-specific responses. Recent findings on these properties of MAP kinase cascades are the major focus of this review.