We observed that sex steroid hormones, like growth factors, stimulate the Src/Ras/erk pathway of cell lines derived from human mammary or prostate cancers. In addition, hormone-dependent pathway activation can be induced in Cos cells, upon transfection of classic steroid receptors. Cross-talks between sex steroid receptors regulate their association with Src and consequent pathway activation. Oestradiol treatment of MCF-7 cells triggers simultaneous association of ER with Src and p85, the regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and activation of Src- and PI3-K-dependent pathways. Activation of the latter pathway triggers cyclin D1 transcription, that is unaffected by Mek-1 activation. This suggests that simultaneous activation of different signalling effectors is required to target different cell cycle components. Thus, a novel reciprocal cross-talk between the two pathways appears to be mediated by the ER. In all tested cells, activation of the signalling pathways has a proliferative role. Transcriptionally inactive ER expressed in NIH 3T3 cells responds to hormone causing Src/Ras/Erk pathway activation and DNA synthesis. This suggests that in these cells genomic activity is required for later events of cell growth.