Cytoplasmic Janus protein tyrosine kinases (JAKs) are crucial components of diverse signal transduction pathways that govern cellular survival, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Evidence to date, indicates that JAK kinase function may integrate components of diverse signaling cascades. While it is likely that activation of STAT proteins may be an important function attributed to the JAK kinases, it is certainly not the only function performed by this key family of cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases. Emerging evidence indicates that phosphorylation of cytokine and growth factor receptors may be the primary functional attribute of JAK kinases. The JAK-triggered receptor phosphorylation can potentially be a rate-limiting event for a successful culmination of downstream signaling events. In support of this hypothesis, it has been found that JAK kinase function is required for optimal activation of the Src-kinase cascade, the Ras-MAP kinase pathway, the PI3K-AKT pathway and STAT signaling following the interaction of cytokine/interferon receptors with their ligands. Aberrations in JAK kinase activity, that may lead to derailment of one or more of the above mentioned pathways could disrupt normal cellular responses and result in disease states. Thus, over-activation of JAK kinases has been implicated in tumorigenesis. In contrast, loss of JAK kinase function has been found to result in disease states such as severe-combined immunodeficiency. In summary, optimal JAK kinase activity is a critical determinant of normal transmission of cytokine and growth factor signals.