The catalytic and regulatory subunits of class I phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) have oncogenic potential. The catalytic subunit p110α and the regulatory subunit p85 undergo cancer-specific gain-of-function mutations that lead to enhanced enzymatic activity, ability to signal constitutively, and oncogenicity. The β, γ, and δ isoforms of p110 are cell-transforming as overexpressed wild-type proteins. Class I PI3Ks have the unique ability to generate phosphoinositide 3,4,5 trisphosphate (PIP(3)). Class II and class III PI3Ks lack this ability. Genetic and cell biological evidence suggests that PIP(3) is essential for PI3K-mediated oncogenicity, explaining why class II and class III enzymes have not been linked to cancer. Mutational analysis reveals the existence of at least two distinct molecular mechanisms for the gain of function seen with cancer-specific mutations in p110α; one causing independence from upstream receptor tyrosine kinases, the other inducing independence from Ras. An essential component of the oncogenic signal that is initiated by PI3K is the TOR (target of rapamycin) kinase. TOR is an integrator of growth and of metabolic inputs. In complex with the raptor protein (TORC1), it controls cap-dependent translation, and this function is essential for PI3K-initiated oncogenesis.