Control of gene expression at the translational level is important in cell growth and proliferation. Recent work has identified pathways that transmit signals from extracellular stimuli to several translation components. A key participant in regulation of translation is eIF4E, the mRNA 5' cap-binding protein. Several signalling pathways impact on the activity of eIF4E. This review will summarise recent findings on the MAP kinase signalling pathway that leads to phosphorylation of eIF4E and on pathways that regulate repression of eIF4E function. A major unresolved question is how the changes in translation modulate cell growth rate, and a working model will be discussed.