A signaling pathway has been elucidated whereby growth factors activate the transcription factor cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB), a critical regulator of immediate early gene transcription. Growth factor-stimulated CREB phosphorylation at serine-133 is mediated by the RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. MAPK activates CREB kinase, which in turn phosphorylates and activates CREB. Purification, sequencing, and biochemical characterization of CREB kinase revealed that it is identical to a member of the pp90RSK family, RSK2. RSK2 was shown to mediate growth factor induction of CREB serine-133 phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. These findings identify a cellular function for RSK2 and define a mechanism whereby growth factor signals mediated by RAS and MAPK are transmitted to the nucleus to activate gene expression.