The epidermis is a dynamic and continually renewing surface that provides and maintains a life-sustaining interface with the environment. The epidermal keratinocyte, the major cell type of the epidermis, undergoes a complex and carefully choreographed program of differentiation. This process requires a balance between keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. This overview will concentrate on cascades that regulate the balance between keratinocyte cell proliferation and survival, and apoptosis and cell differentiation, with a particular emphasis on the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades. A summary of the literature suggests that extracellular regulated kinases function to promote keratinocyte proliferation and survival, whereas p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase functions to promote differentiation and apoptosis.