Cot is one of the MAP kinase kinase kinases that regulates the ERK1/ERK2 pathway under physiological conditions. Cot is activated by LPS, by inducing its dissociation from the inactive p105 NFkappaB-Cot complex in macrophages. Here, we show that IL-1 promotes a 10-fold increase in endogenous Cot activity and that Cot is the only MAP kinase kinase kinase that activates ERK1/ERK2 in response to this cytokine. Moreover, in cells where the expression of Cot is blocked, IL-1 fails to induce an increase in IL-8 and MIP-1betamRNA levels. The activation of Cot-MKK1-ERK1/ERK2 signalling pathway by IL-1 is dependent on the activity of the transducer protein TRAF6. Most important, IL-1-induced ERK1/ERK2 activation is inhibited by PP1, a known inhibitor of Src tyrosine kinases, but this tyrosine kinase activity is not required for IL-1 to activate other MAP kinases such as p38 and JNK. This Src kinases inhibitor does not block the dissociation and subsequently degradation of Cot in response to IL-1, indicating that other events besides Cot dissociation are required to activate Cot. All these data highlight the specific requirements for activation of the Cot-MKK1-ERK1/ERK2 pathway and provide evidence that Cot controls the functions of IL-1 that are mediated by ERK1/ERK2.