Adenosine activates four different receptors, the A(1), A(2A), A(2B), and the A(3) receptors, all of which are G protein-coupled. We have previously shown that stimulation of the human adenosine A(3) receptor can induce phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2). Here we show that the adenosine receptor agonist 5' N-ethylcarboxamidoadenosine (NECA) induces phosphorylation and activation of ERK1/2 in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing the human adenosine A(3) receptor (CHO A(3) cells) with the same potency. Pretreatment with pertussis toxin abolished the effect, which also could be blunted by overexpressing the betagamma-sequestering peptide beta-adrenergic receptor kinase-ct, implicating the involvement of betagamma subunits released from G(i/o) proteins. Activation of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) by adenosine A(3) receptors is inferred from a dose-dependent Ser-phosphorylation of the protein kinase B (Akt). Furthermore the ERK1/2 phosphorylation was sensitive to the PI3K inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 (2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-1(4H)-benzopyran-4-one hydrochloride) and the MEK inhibitor PD98059 (2'-amino-3'-methoxyflavone), whereas chelation of Ca(2+) with 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid tetrakis (acetoxymethyl ester) and long-term treatment with phorboldibutyrate did not decrease the adenosine A(3) receptor-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Thus, Ca(2+) mobilization and conventional and novel protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms are not involved in this pathway. The atypical PKCzeta was not activated by NECA and thus not involved in the A(3) receptor-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. NECA stimulation of CHO A(3) cells activated the small G protein Ras and the dominant negative mutant RasS17N prevented the phosphorylation of ERK1/2. In conclusion, the adenosine A(3) receptor recruits a pathway that involves betagamma release from G(i/o), PI3K, Ras, and MEK to induce ERK1/2 phosphorylation and activation, whereas signaling is independent of Ca(2+), PKC, and c-Src.