The loss of ability to proliferate (terminal differentiation) and reduction in capability to resist ischemia are key phenomena observed during postnatal development of the heart. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) mediate signaling pathways for cell proliferation/differentiation and stress responses such as ischemia. In this study, the expression of these kinases and their associated kinases were investigated in rat heart ventricle. Extracts of 1-, 10-, 20-, 50-, and 365-day-old rat heart ventricles were probed with specific antibodies and their immunoreactivities were quantified by densitometry. Most of the mitogenic protein kinases including Raf1, RafB, Mek1, Erk2, and Rsk1 were significantly down-regulated, whereas the stress signaling kinases, such as Mlk3, Mekkl, Sekl, Mkk3, and Mapkapk2 were up-regulated in expression during postnatal development. Most MAP kinases including Erk1, JNKs, p38 Hog, as well as Rsk2, however, did not exhibit postnatal changes in expression. The proto-oncogene-encoded kinases Mos and Cot/Tpl 2 were up-regulated up to two- and four-fold, respectively, during development. Pakl, which may be involved in the regulation of cytoskeleton as well as in stress signaling, was downregulated with age, but the Pak2 isoform increased only after 50 days. All of these proteins, except RafB, were also detected in the isolated adult ventricular myocytes at comparable levels to those found in adult ventricle. Tissue distribution studies revealed that most of the protein kinases that were up-regulated during heart development tended to be preferentially expressed in heart, whereas the downregulated protein kinases were generally expressed in heart at relatively lesser amounts than in most of other tissues.