Eotaxin is a critical chemokine eliciting migration of eosinophils and basophils in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma. Recent studies have shown that the specific receptor for eotaxin, CCR3, is expressed in bronchial epithelial cells. Although mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases are involved in diverse cell functions of bronchial epithelial cells, their role in eotaxin signaling is unknown. In this study, we studied the activation and functional relevance of MAP kinases in bronchial epithelial cells stimulated with eotaxin. Eotaxin (1-100 nM) induced tyrosine/threonine phosphorylation and activation of extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and p38 in NCI-H(292) cells and normal human bronchial epithelial cells. The phosphorylation of these MAP kinases was detectable after 30 s, and peaked at 5 min. Eotaxin stimulated production of interleukin-8 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Pretreatment of Compound X (a specific CCR3 antagonist), pertussis toxin, genistein, and wortmannin reduced the MAP kinase phosphorylation and cytokine production. The eotaxin-induced cytokine production was inhibited by specific inhibitors for MAP/ERK kinase (PD98059) and p38 MAP kinase (SB202190). These results suggest that both ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinase activated by eotaxin have a critical role in the pathogenesis of asthma.