Phosphatidic acid (PA) is an important second messenger produced by the activation of numerous cell surface receptors. Recent data have suggested that PA regulates multiple cellular processes. This review addresses primarily the role of PA in the regulation of the Erk1/2 cascade pathway. A model for the regulation of Erk1/2 phosphorylation by cell surface receptors is presented. According to this model, agonists stimulate the binding of GTP to Ras and the activation of phospholipase D to generate phosphatidic acid. PA promotes the binding of cRaf-1 kinase to the membrane, where it interacts with Ras.GTP and other regulatory components of the pathway. Ras-Raf complexes remain bound to the surface of endosomes, where scaffolding complexes involving Ras, cRaf-1, MEK and Erk are formed. Complete activation and coupling of the cascade requires endocytosis, a process that is also modulated by PA.