In rat neonatal cardiac fibroblasts and CHO-K1 cells expressing angiotensin type 1 receptors, angiotensin II (AII) rapidly caused a time dependent reduction in the SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic mobility of Stat3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription). This was concentration dependent and detected at a low/physiological concentration of AII (1 nM), with initial effect observed as early as 2 min; and maximal at 5 min. The rapid stimulation of Stat3 mobility retardation by AII, paralleled the rapid activation of MAP kinases (mitogen-activated protein kinases), and both were sensitive to the MAP kinase kinase 1 inhibitor, PD98059. Immunoprecipitation of Stat3 from [32P] labeled cells demonstrated a 4-fold increase in Stat3 phosphorylation in response to AII, and phosphoamino acid analysis indicated that phosphorylation occurred on serine residues. Angiotensin II-induced rapid phosphorylation of Stat3 was also sensitive to the MAP kinase kinase 1 inhibitor, PD98059. Treatment of immunoprecipitated Stat3 from AII-treated cells with protein phosphatase- PP-2A, reversed the AII-induced retardation of Stat3 mobility. These results demonstrate that AII rapidly induces Stat3 serine phosphorylation through a MAP kinase kinase 1 dependent pathway. Rapid stimulation of Stat3 serine phosphorylation by AII may have implications in the modulation of its transcriptional activity and gene expression.