The Cryptococcus neoformans Ras1 signal transduction pathway controls mating, hyphal differentiation, and the ability of this opportunistic human fungal pathogen to grow at elevated temperatures. To further elucidate how Ras1 signals in this organism, the RAS1 gene was disrupted in the congenic serotype D strain background. Genetic epistasis experiments indicated that Ras1 regulates the mating response through the MAP kinase/pheromone response pathway. In fact, Ras1 is required for the transcriptional induction of elements of the pheromone response pathway. However, the ability of C. neoformans Ras1 to allow growth at 37 degrees C is mediated by a separate signaling pathway. Therefore a single Ras protein may differentially activate distinct downstream targets in response to different signals within the same organism. This conserved signaling motif has been coopted in C. neoformans to regulate mating and morphogenesis in addition to being required for its pathogenic potential.