Hypoosmotic stress activates a phosphorylation-dependent oxidative burst. In-gel kinase assays were performed to characterize the protein kinases that could be implicated in osmoregulation and in the activation of the oxidative burst. Hypoosmotic stress activated several kinases among which 50 and 46 kDa proteins displayed mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase) properties. They phosphorylated myelin basic protein in the absence of calcium, were recognized by antibodies directed against human MAP kinases, and were phosphorylated on tyrosine. Immunoprecipitation with an antibody directed against the tobacco MAP kinase Ntf4 showed that at least one of the activated kinases would be Ntf4-like. Apigenin, a MAP kinase and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor which prevents the hypoosmotically induced oxidative burst (Cazale et al. 1998; Plant Physiol. 116, 659-669), inhibited these kinases in vitro suggesting that they may play a role in the activation of the oxidative burst. Like the oxidative response, activation of the kinases depended on extracellular calcium influx and protein kinases sensitive to staurosporine and 6-DMAP. However, kinase activation did not depend on effluxes through anion channels or on the oxidative burst. Two-dimensional in-gel kinase assays revealed the presence of three protein kinases with an apparent molecular mass of 50 kDa and one of 46 kDa, all four being activated by hypoosmotic stress. The same kinases were also activated by oligogalacturonides and salicylic acid, underlying the importance of these MAP kinases as common components of different signaling pathways triggered by different extracellular stimuli.