Genotoxic stress triggers signalling pathways that either mediate cell killing or protection of affected cells. While induction of p53 is observed for most of the genotoxins, activation of MAPK/SAPK cascades is not a general response. The role of MAPK/SAPK activation on cell fate, seems to be dependent, in some systems, on the balanced response among both cascades. We have here examined the effect of cis and trans-DDP on the activation of ERK and JNK activities. While no significant induction of ERK was observed with the compounds, both of them are able to strongly activate JNK. Trans-DDP response is rapid and transient while the cis-DDP one is slow and persistent. In contrast with the observed nuclear translocation of JNK in response to U.V. light, none of the platinum compounds induces translocation, on the contrary, activation of JNK occurs in both the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. Inhibition of tyrosine phosphatases by orthovanadate pretreatment prolongs the time of JNK induction in response to both platinum compounds. The positive modulation of JNK activation correlates with an increase in toxicity that, for cis-DDP corresponds to a tenfold decrease in the IC50. A strong increase in MKP-1 levels was observed only in response to trans-DDP suggesting the involvement of this activity in the downregulation of JNK activity in response to this compound. Altogether the results suggest that the prolonged activation of JNK in response to cis-DDP contributes to cell death induction.