Eukaryotic mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades have evolved to transduce environmental and developmental signals into adaptive and programmed responses. MAPK cascades relay and amplify signals via three types of reversibly phosphorylated kinases leading to the phosphorylation of substrate proteins, whose altered activities mediate a wide array of responses, including changes in gene expression. Cascades may share kinase components, but their signaling specificity is maintained by spaciotemporal constraints and dynamic protein-protein interactions and by mechanisms that include crossinhibition, feedback control, and scaffolding. Plant MAPK cascades regulate numerous processes, including stress and hormonal responses, innate immunity, and developmental programs. Genetic analyses have uncovered several predominant MAPK components shared by several of these processes including the Arabidopsis thaliana MAPKs MPK3, 4, and 6 and MAP2Ks MKK1, 2, 4, and 5. Future work needs to focus on identifying substrates of MAPKs, and on understanding how specificity is achieved among MAPK signaling pathways.