Communication between cells of the central nervous system (CNS) and of the immune system is accomplished by a network of cytokines and growth factors. Certain cytokines and growth factors cause activation of microglia, contributing to inflammatory states in the CNS. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) has numerous effects on microglia, ranging from induction of proliferation to changes in morphology. GM-CSF is also a growth factor for cells of the myeloid lineage, and the signal tranduction induced by GM-CSF in these cells has been extensively studied. Most notably, the importance of the Jak/STAT and MAP kinase pathways in mitogenesis has been shown in many different systems. We show here that primary microglia and a microglia cell line, BV-2, have a Jak/STAT expression pattern and GM-CSF inducibility similar to that of monocytes and macrophages. Primary microglia and BV-2 cells expressed identical Jak/STATs: Jakl, Jak2, Jak3, Tyk2, STAT1alpha/beta, STAT3, STAT5A, STAT5B, and STAT6. In addition, GM-CSF induced Jak2, STAT5A, and STAT5B in BV-2 cells, as it does in monocytes and macrophages. Immunocytochemical analysis showed that STAT5 translocates to the nucleus following GM-CSF stimulation of microglia. We also found the MAP kinases, ERK1 and ERK2, to be phosphorylated in microglia and BV-2 cells following induction by GM-CSF. Jak2, STAT5A, STAT5B, and ERKs are known to be important in controlling cellular proliferation. Drugs that block these pathways may become tools to control inflammation in the CNS by limiting microglial proliferation.