Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) or of Akt induces myoblast differentiation. Activation of p38 MAP kinase also triggers myogenic differentiation. The current paper shows that PI 3-kinase and p38 MAP kinase signalling are activated by two separate pathways during myogenic differentiation; both are required for muscle differentiation. p38-induced myogenic differentiation can be inhibited by the PI 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 without affecting p38 activity. Similarly, a constitutively active form of Akt, myristylated c-Akt (Myr-Akt), induces myogenic differentiation that is inhibited by the p38 inhibitor SB203580. An analysis of the two forms of p38, p38 and p38beta, shows that the activity of both is required for myogenic differentiation. These data suggest that PI 3-kinase and p38 signalling are essential and parallel pathways for myogenic differentiation. They may either affect different downstream targets required for myogenesis or they may converge on shared targets that require input from both signalling pathways.