Neurotransmitters regulate gene expression through second messenger cascades that transmit the signal from the plasma membrane to the nucleus of the postsynaptic cell. Ca2+ and cAMP are two of the second messengers that regulate gene expression in response to neurotransmitters. The Ca2+ and cAMP signals induce expression of a class of genes, termed immediate early genes, within minutes of neurotransmitter receptor activation. Many of these genes encode transcription factors that regulate the expression of late response genes. The results of recent experiments have elucidated mechanisms by which neurotransmitter-induced Ca2+ and cAMP signals regulate immediate early gene expression.