Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and bombesin rapidly stimulate the formation of focal adhesions and actin stress fibres in serum-starved Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts, a process regulated by the small GTP binding protein Rho. To investigate further the signalling pathways leading to these responses, we have tested the roles of three intracellular signals known to be induced by LPA: activation of protein kinase C (PK-C), Ca2+ mobilization and decreased cAMP levels. Neither PK-C activation nor increased [Ca2+]i, alone or in combination, induced stress fibre formation, and in fact activators of PK-C inhibited this response to LPA and bombesin. The G(i)-mediated decrease in cAMP was not required for the response to LPA, and increased cAMP levels did not prevent stress fibre formation. In contrast, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein inhibited the formation of stress fibres induced by both extracellular factors and microinjected Rho protein. Genistein also inhibited the Rho-dependent clustering of phosphotyrosine-containing proteins at focal adhesions, and the increased tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins including pp125FAK, induced by LPA and bombesin. This suggests a model where Rho-induced activation of a tyrosine kinase is required for the formation of stress fibres.