Protein-tyrosine kinases (PTKs) of the JAK family have been characterized on the basis of their ability to mediate the rapid induction of transcription of interferon-responsive genes through the stimulation of a class of latent cytoplasmic transcription factors known as signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). STAT activation, which has been described as being Ras-independent, requires tyrosine phosphorylation, but STAT transactivating activity is enhanced by phosphorylation on serine as well, probably by extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase(s) (ERK/MAPK). STATs can be activated upon binding of ligands to receptor PTKs, to G-protein-linked receptors, and to cytokine receptors. Whether JAKs are required for the activation of signaling pathways other than that leading to STAT activation is not known. The binding of growth hormone (GH) to its receptor (GHR) activates JAK2 and STATs as well as ERK/MAP kinases. We have used a transient transfection system in 293 cells to evaluate the requirement for JAK2 in the activation of ERK2/MAPK by GH. We found that JAK2 is required for GH-simulated activation of ERK2/MAPK. Employing the transient expression of dominant negative forms of H-Ras and Raf-1, we determined that the GHR/JAK2-mediated activation of ERK2/MAPK is dependent on both Ras and Raf. Thus, JAK protein-tyrosine kinases may represent a common component in the activation of the ERK2/MAPK and STAT signaling pathways, which appear to bifurcate upstream of Ras activation but converge with ERK/MAPK phosphorylation of STATs.