p38 MAPKs are a conserved subfamily of MAPKs involved in the response to stress found in eukaryotic cells from yeast to mammals. The recent isolation of genes coding for members of this signalling cascade in Drosophila has provided us with the genetic tools to study their various biological roles and their regulatory interactions with other signalling pathways. This cascade participates in the immune response, a function that is remarkably conserved between flies and humans. Additionally, it appears to exert other fundamental roles during development, in cell fate specification in imaginal discs, and in cell polarity during oogenesis. These functions involve genetic and biochemical interactions with other signalling cascades, the decapentaplegic/TGFbeta, the wingless/Wnt and the torpedo/Ras-ERK pathways. In the near future, we can expect a flurry of information that will allow us to draw a comprehensive picture of the roles of signalling networks mediated by p38s during development.