Abstract Cardiac myocyte hypertrophy is associated with an increase in expression of immediate early genes (e.g. c- jun) via activation of pre-existing transcription factors. The activity of CREB transcription factor is regulated through phosphorylation of Ser-133 by one of several protein kinases (e.g. protein kinase A (PKA), p90 ribosomal S6 kinases (RSKs) and the related kinase, MSK1). A cell-permeable form of cAMP, hypertrophic agonists (endothelin-1 (ET-1), phenylephrine (PE)) and hyperosmotic shock all promoted phosphorylation of CREB(Ser-133) in rat neonatal cardiac myocytes. The response to endothelin-1 required the extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascade which stimulates both RSKs and MSK1. Phosphorylation of CREB(Ser-133) in response to ET-1 was not associated with any increase in DNA binding to a consensus cAMP-response element (CRE). The rat c- jun promoter contains elements which may bind either c-Jun/ATF2 or CREB/ATF1 dimers. Using extracts from rat cardiac myocytes, we identified at least two complexes which bind to the most proximal of these elements, one of which contained CREB and the other c-Jun. Thus, phosphorylation and activation of CREB in cardiac myocytes may be effected by a range of different stimuli to influence the expression of immediate early genes such as c- jun.