The hemopoietic specific, Src homology 2-containing inositol 5' phosphatase (SHIP) hydrolyzes the phosphatidylinositol (PI)-3-kinase generated second messenger, PI-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP(3)), to PI-3,4-bisphosphate (PI-3,4-P(2)) in normal bone marrow derived mast cells (BMMCs). As a consequence, SHIP negatively regulates IgE+antigen (Ag)-induced degranulation as well as leukotriene and inflammatory cytokine production. Interestingly, in the absence of SHIP, BMMCs degranulate extensively with IgE alone, i.e. without Ag, suggesting that IgE alone is capable of stimulating signaling in normal BMMCs and that SHIP prevents this signaling from progressing to degranulation. To test this, we compared signaling events triggered by monomeric IgE versus IgE+Ag in normal BMMCs and found that multiple pathways are triggered by monomeric IgE alone and, while they are in general weaker than those stimulated by IgE+Ag, they are more prolonged. Moreover, while SHIP prevents this IgE-induced signalling from progressing to degranulation or leukotriene production it allows sufficient production of autocrine acting cytokines, in part by activation of NFkappaB, to enhance BMMC survival. Interestingly, the activation of NFkappaB and the level of cytokines produced are far higher with IgE than with IgE+Ag. Moreover, IgE alone maintains Bcl-X(L) levels and enhances the adhesion of BMMCs to fibronectin and this likely enhances their survival still further.