A major process through which environmental information is transmitted into cells is via activation of protein tyrosine kinases. Receptor tyrosine kinases contain extracellular ligand recognition, single membrane spanning, and cytoplasmic protein tyrosine kinase domains. The cytoplasmic kinase core is flanked by regulatory segments, which in some family members are also inserted into the core kinase domain. Ligand binding initiates receptor signaling from the cell surface. Activated receptors autophosphorylate to remove alternate substrate/inhibitory constraints and to provide loci for assembly of proteins that contain SRC homology regions. Information is transmitted and diffused by tyrosine phosphorylation of the assembled proteins and of cellular substrates that include protein kinases with specificity for serine/threonine residues. Signaling, which is strictly ligand-dependent, is attenuated by down-regulation of receptors and by feed-back inhibitory loops that involve receptor phosphorylation by cellular kinases. The tyrosine kinase receptors are essential for normal growth, development, and reparative processes. Mutations that remove normal regulatory constraints on the approximately 290 amino acid kinase core of these large proteins result in constitutive function and cell transformation.