Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases comprise a family of ubiquitous proline-directed, protein-serine/threonine kinases, which participate in signal transduction pathways that control intracellular events including acute responses to hormones and major developmental changes in organisms. MAP kinases lie in protein kinase cascades. This review discusses the regulation and functions of mammalian MAP kinases. Nonenzymatic mechanisms that impact MAP kinase functions and findings from gene disruption studies are highlighted. Particular emphasis is on ERK1/2.