Osteoclasts are multinuclear bone-resorbing cells formed by the fusion of monocyte/macrophage-lineage precursor cells. Activation of the transcription factor NFATc1 (nuclear factor of activated T cells c1) by the receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) is critical for osteoclast differentiation. In our previous report (Y. Kuroda, C. Hisatsune, T. Nakamura, K. Matsuo, and K. Mikoshiba. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 105:8643, 2008), we demonstrated that osteoblasts induce osteoclast differentiation via Ca(2+) oscillation/calcineurin-dependent and -independent NFATc1 activation pathways; however, the mechanism underlying the latter remained unclear. Here we show that Cot, a serine/threonine kinase also known as tumor progression locus 2 (Tpl-2), directly phosphorylates all Ca(2+)/calcineurin-regulated NFAT family members (NFATc1 through NFATc4) and increases their protein levels. Moreover, Cot activity in osteoclasts was enhanced via cell-cell interaction with osteoblasts, and Cot promoted Ca(2+) oscillation/calcineurin-independent osteoclastogenesis by increasing NFATc1 stability through phosphorylation. We propose that NFAT activation in vivo occurs via phosphorylation-induced protein stabilization, even in the absence of Ca(2+) oscillation and calcineurin activity.