IL-6 has been reported to play a central role in growth and survival of multiple myeloma (MM) cells. However, recently we have demonstrated that in the presence of bone marrow stromal cells, survival of MM cells becomes independent of the IL-6/gp130/STAT3 pathway questioning the singular role of IL-6 in MM. Therefore, it was the aim of this study to identify additional factors and signaling pathways that might contribute to the growth and survival of MM cells. We found that in addition to IL-6 a number of bone marrow derived cytokines such as LIF, VEGF, bFGF, MIP-1alpha, SDF-1alpha, IL-1beta, SCF and IL-3 activate the MAPK pathway and induce proliferation of MM.1S and RPMI-8226 MM cells. In addition, these cytokines independently phosphorylate the forkhead family member FKHR via PI3-K/AKT and support survival of primary human MM cells. Inhibition of these pathways induces apoptosis in MM cell lines and primary MM cells. Thus, we provide evidence that in addition to IL-6 a number of different factors trigger important growth-promoting pathways to support the proliferation and survival of MM cells. Therefore, blocking such pathways, rather than blocking a single factor, might be a promising approach for the development of novel treatment strategies in MM.