Interferons play key roles in mediating antiviral and antigrowth responses and in modulating immune response. The main signaling pathways are rapid and direct. They involve tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription factors by Janus tyrosine kinases at the cell membrane, followed by release of signal transducers and activators of transcription and their migration to the nucleus, where they induce the expression of the many gene products that determine the responses. Ancillary pathways are also activated by the interferons, but their effects on cell physiology are less clear. The Janus kinases and signal transducers and activators of transcription, and many of the interferon-induced proteins, play important alternative roles in cells, raising interesting questions as to how the responses to the interferons intersect with more general aspects of cellular physiology and how the specificity of cytokine responses is maintained.