CD43, the most abundant membrane protein of T lymphocytes, is able to initiate signals that lead to Ca2+ mobilization and interleukin-2 production, yet the molecular events involved in signal transduction pathway of the CD43 molecule are only beginning to be understood. We have shown recently that cross-linking CD43 on the cell surface of human T lymphocytes with the anti-CD43 monoclonal antibody L10 leads to CD43-Fyn kinase interactions and to Fyn phosphorylation on tyrosine residues. This interaction seems to be mediated by the SH3 domain of Fyn and a proline-rich sequence located in the cytoplasmic domain of CD43. Here we show that CD43- specific activation of human T lymphocytes induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the adaptor protein Shc and of the guanine exchange factor Vav, as well as the formation of a macromolecular complex that comprises Shc, GRB2, and Vav. CD43 ligation resulted in enhanced formation of Vav-SLP-76 complexes and in the activation and nuclear translocation of ERK2. Cross-linking of the CD43 molecule in 3T3-CD43+ cells induced luciferase activity from a construct under the control of the Fos serum responsive element. Altogether, these data suggest that the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is involved in CD43-dependent interleukin-2 gene expression.