Irradiation of cells with wavelength ultraviolet (UVA, B and C) induces the transcription of many genes. The program overlaps with that induced by oxidants and alkylating agents and has both protective and other functions. Genes transcribed in response to UV irradiation include genes encoding transcription factors, proteases and viral proteins. While the transcription factor encoding genes is initiated in minutes after UV irradiation (immediate response genes) and depends exclusively on performed proteins, the transcription of protease encoding occurs only many hours after UV irradiation. Transcription factors controlling the activity of immediate response genes are activated by protein kinases belonging to the group of proline directed protein kinases immediately after UV irradiation. Experimental evidence suggests that these kinases are activated in UV irradiated cells through pathways which are used by growth factors. In fact, the first cellular reaction detectable in UV irradiated cells is the phosphorylation of several growth factor receptors at tyrosine residues. This phosphorylation does not depend on UV induced DNA damage, but is due to an inhibition of the activity of tyrosine phosphatases. In contrast, for late cellular reactions to UV, an obligatory role of DNA damage in transcribed regions of the genome can be demonstrated. Thus, UV is absorbed by several target molecules relevant for cellular signaling, and it appears that numerous signal transduction pathways are stimulated. The combined action of these pathways establishes the genetic program that determines the fate of UV irradiated cells.