In mast cells, antigen-mediated aggregation of the high-affinity receptor for immunoglobulin E, Fc epsilon RI, stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of multiple signaling pathways leading to the release of several classes of mediators of the allergic response. Early events induced upon cross-linking of Fc epsilon RI include tyrosine phosphorylation of Fc epsilon RI subunits and activation of the tyrosine kinase p72syk (Syk), which binds to tyrosine-phosphorylated Fc epsilon RI. Clustering of Syk, as a result of its interaction with aggregated Fc epsilon RI, may play a role in activating one or more of the signaling pathways leading to mediator release. To test this possibility, Syk was introduced into a model mast cell line (rat basophilic leukemia cells) as part of a chimeric transmembrane protein containing the extracellular and transmembrane domains of CD16 and CD7, respectively. Clustering of the Syk chimera, using antibodies against CD16, was found to be sufficient to stimulate early and late events normally induced by clustering of Fc epsilon RI. Specifically, aggregation of Syk induced degranulation, leukotriene synthesis, and expression of cytokine genes. Induction of mediator release was dependent on the kinase activity of Syk. Consistent with this finding, clustering of Syk also induced the tyrosine phosphorylation of a profile of proteins, including phospholipase C-gamma 1 and mitogen-activated protein kinase, similar to that induced upon clustering of Fc epsilon RI. These results strongly suggest that Syk is an early and critical mediator of multiple signaling pathways that emanate from the Fc epsilon RI receptor and give rise to the allergic response.