Vulval development in the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite represents a simple, genetically tractable system for studying how cell signaling events control cell fate decisions. Current models suggest that proper specification of vulval cell fates relies on the integration of multiple signaling systems, including one that involves a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-->Ras-->mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and one that involves a LIN-12/Notch family receptor. In this review, we first discuss how genetic strategies are being used to identify and analyze components that control vulval cell fate decisions. We then describe the different signaling systems that have been elucidated and how they relate to one another. Finally, we highlight several recently characterized genes that encode positive regulators, negative regulators or potential targets of the RTK-->Ras-->MAPK cascade involved in vulval induction.