Signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM)-associated protein (SAP) is a short intracellular molecule that is mutated in humans with X-linked lymphoproliferative (XLP) disease. Although the exact role and mechanism of action of SAP are not known, it has the capacity to interact with the cytoplasmic region of SLAM and other related immune cell receptors. As SAP is composed almost exclusively of a Src homology 2 (SH2) domain, it has been proposed that it functions as a natural blocker of SH2 domain--mediated interactions. We report here that the SLAM receptor is capable of triggering a protein tyrosine phosphorylation signal in T cells via a mechanism that is strictly dependent on SAP expression. This signal involves the SH2 domain--containing inositol phosphatase (SHIP); the adaptor molecules Dok2, Dok1 and Shc; and Ras GTPase--activating protein RasGAP. SAP is essential for this pathway because it facilitates the selective recruitment and activation of the Src-related protein tyrosine kinase FynT. We also show that signaling via the SLAM-SAP pathway in an established T cell line can alter the profile of cytokine production during T cell activation. These findings identify a mechanism by which a putative adaptor molecule is required for receptor-mediated signaling events in the immune system. They also provide insights into the pathophysiology of a severe human lymphoproliferative disease.