The kinases Mnk1 and Mnk2 are activated downstream of the p38 MAPK and MEK/ERK signaling pathways. Extensive work over the years has shown that these kinases control phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) and regulate engagement of other effector elements, including hnRNPA1 and PSF. Mnk kinases are ubiquitously expressed and play critical roles in signaling for various cytokine receptors, while there is emerging evidence that they have important functions as mediators of pro-inflammatory cytokine production. In this review the mechanisms of activation of MNK pathways by cytokine receptors are addressed and their roles in diverse cytokine-dependent biological processes are reviewed. The clinical-translational implications of such work and the relevance of future development of specific MNK inhibitors for the treatment of malignancies and auto-immune disorders are discussed.