As reports on G protein-coupled receptor signal transduction mechanisms continue to emphasize potential differences in signaling due to relative receptor levels and cell type specificities, the need to study endogenously expressed receptors in appropriate model systems becomes increasingly important. Here we examine signal transduction mechanisms mediated by endogenous kappa-opioid receptors in C6 glioma cells, an astrocytic model system. We find that the kappa-opioid receptor-selective agonist U69,593 stimulates phospholipase C activity, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation, PYK2 phosphorylation, and DNA synthesis. U69,593-stimulated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation is shown to be upstream of DNA synthesis as inhibition of signaling components such as pertussis toxin-sensitive G proteins, L-type Ca2+ channels, phospholipase C, intracellular Ca2+ release, protein kinase C, and mitogen-activated protein or extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase blocks both of these downstream events. In addition, by overexpressing dominant-negative or sequestering mutants, we provide evidence that extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation is Ras-dependent and transduced by Gbetagamma subunits. In summary, we have delineated major features of the mechanism of the mitogenic action of an agonist of the endogenous kappa-opioid receptor in C6 glioma cells.