NFAT transcription factors are highly phosphorylated proteins residing in the cytoplasm of resting cells. Upon dephosphorylation by the phosphatase calcineurin, NFAT proteins translocate to the nucleus, where they orchestrate developmental and activation programs in diverse cell types. NFAT is rephosphorylated and inactivated through the concerted action of at least 3 different kinases: CK1, GSK-3, and DYRK. The major docking sites for calcineurin and CK1 are strongly conserved throughout vertebrate evolution, and conversion of either the calcineurin docking site to a high-affinity version or the CK1 docking site to a low-affinity version results in generation of hyperactivable NFAT proteins that are still fully responsive to stimulation. In this study, we generated transgenic mice expressing hyperactivable versions of NFAT1 from the ROSA26 locus. We show that hyperactivable NFAT increases the expression of NFAT-dependent cytokines by differentiated T cells as expected, but exerts unexpected signal-dependent effects during T cell differentiation in the thymus, and is progressively deleterious for the development of B cells from hematopoietic stem cells. Moreover, progressively hyperactivable versions of NFAT1 are increasingly deleterious for embryonic development, particularly when normal embryos are also present in utero. Forced expression of hyperactivable NFAT1 in the developing embryo leads to mosaic expression in many tissues, and the hyperactivable proteins are barely tolerated in organs such as brain, and cardiac and skeletal muscle. Our results highlight the need for balanced Ca/NFAT signaling in hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells of the developing embryo, and emphasize the evolutionary importance of kinase and phosphatase docking sites in preventing inappropriate activation of NFAT.