We previously reported that nicotine promoted gastric cancer cell growth via upregulation of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). In the present study, we further investigated whether beta-adrenoceptors, protein kinase C (PKC), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2) were involved in the modulation of COX-2 expression and cell proliferation by nicotine in AGS, a human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line. Results showed that nicotine dose dependently increased the phosphorylation of EKR1/2 and the expression of AP-1 subunits c-fos and c-jun. In this connection, the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126 abrogated the upregulation of AP-1 and COX-2 as well as cell proliferation induced by nicotine. Moreover, nicotine induced the translocation of PKC-betaI from cytosol to membrane and increased the total levels of PKC expression. Inhibition of PKC by staurosporine attenuated nicotine-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and COX-2 expression. Furthermore, atenolol and ICI 118,551, a beta1- and beta2-adrenoceptor antagonist, respectively, reversed the stimulatory action of nicotine on the expression of PKC, ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and COX-2 together with cell proliferation. Collectively, these results suggest that nicotine stimulates gastric cancer cell growth through the activation of beta-adrenoceptors and the downstream PKC-betaI/ERK1/2/COX-2 pathway.