Regulator of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins counter the effects of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) by limiting the abilities of G proteins to propagate signals, although little is known concerning their role in cardiac pathophysiology. We investigated the potential role of RGS proteins on alpha1-adrenergic receptor signals associated with hypertrophy in primary cultures of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Levels of mRNA encoding RGS proteins 1-5 were examined, and the alpha1-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine (PE) significantly increased RGS2 gene expression but had little or no effect on the others. The greatest changes in RGS2 mRNA occurred within the first hour of agonist addition. We next investigated the effects of RGS2 overexpression produced by infecting cells with an adenovirus encoding RGS2-cDNA on cardiomyocyte responses to PE. As expected, PE increased cardiomyocyte size and also significantly upregulated alpha-skeletal actin and ANP expression, the markers of hypertrophy, as well as the Na-H exchanger 1 isoform. These effects were blocked in cells infected with the adenovirus expressing RGS2. We also examined hypertrophy-associated MAP kinase pathways, and RGS2 overexpression completely prevented the activation of ERK by PE. In contrast, the activation of both JNK and p38 unexpectedly were increased by RGS2, although the ability of PE to further activate the p38 pathway was reduced. These results indicate that RGS2 is an important negative-regulatory factor in cardiac hypertrophy produced by alpha1-adrenergic receptor stimulation through complex mechanisms involving the modulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways.