Signaling pathways involved in the development of osteoprogenitors induced by Wnts remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the role of MAPKs in the development of mesenchymal cells into osteoprogenitors. In C3H10T1/2 mesenchymal cells, Wnt3a induced a rapid and transient activation of MAPKs p38 and ERK. Dickkopf 1, a selective antagonist of Wnt proteins binding to low-density lipoprotein-receptor-related protein-5/6 did not influence activation of p38 and ERK induced by Wnt3a. A MAPK kinase-1/2 (MEK1/2) inhibitor blocked, whereas a p38 inhibitor had no effect on, Wnt3a-induced cell proliferation. In contrast, both inhibitors significantly reduced alkaline phosphatase stimulation with a more pronounced effect of the p38 inhibitor. The p38 inhibitor also blunted nodule mineralization induced by Wnt3a. Associated with these effects, beta-catenin transcriptional activity, assessed with the TOPflash system, was dose-dependently decreased by the p38 but not by the ERK inhibitor. Both the reduced alkaline phosphatase stimulation and blunting of beta-catenin transcriptional activity were mimicked by expression of dominant-negative (dn) p38 and dnMEK 3/6. Inhibition of beta-catenin transcriptional activity by the p38 inhibitor as well as by dnp38 and dnMEK 3/6 molecules were not associated with changes in cytosolic and nuclear beta-catenin levels induced by Wnt3a. In conclusion, Wnt3a activates ERK and p38 in mesenchymal C3H10T1/2 cells by a low-density lipoprotein-receptor-related protein-5/6-independent mechanism. Activation of p38 regulates alkaline phosphatase activity and nodule mineralization induced by Wnt3a probably by interacting with beta-catenin transcriptional activity. These observations suggest that MAPKs ERK and p38 are probably essential pathways activated by Wnt proteins for the development of mesenchymal cells into osteoprogenitors.