The cellular response to cisplatin involves activation of multiple signal transduction pathways, including the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways. In this study, we compared the cisplatin-induced activation of two MAP kinases, c-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), in the cisplatin-sensitive ovarian carcinoma cell line A2780 and its derivative cisplatin-resistant cell lines CP70 and C200. Dose-dependent and time-dependent activation of JNK1 and ERK1/2 occurred in each of the three cell lines in response to cisplatin treatment. The requirement of higher concentrations of cisplatin for induction of maximum activation of JNK1 and ERK1/2 was correlated with increased levels of cisplatin resistance. In addition, inhibition of cisplatin-induced ERK activation, using the MAP/ERK kinase 1 synthetic inhibitor PD98059, resulted in enhanced sensitivity to cisplatin in all three cell lines. These results suggest that cisplatin-induced ERK1/2 activity is not responsible for the acquired cisplatin resistance in CP70 and C200 cells but rather provides a general cytoprotective effect in both cisplatin-sensitive and cisplatin-resistant cell lines. In conclusion, different patterns of cisplatin-induced JNK1 and ERK1/2 activation are observed in cell lines with different levels of cisplatin sensitivity, and inhibition of cisplatin-induced ERK1/2 activation enhances sensitivity to cisplatin in both cisplatin-sensitive and cisplatin-resistant cell lines.