Mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinases (MAPKAPKs) lie immediately downstream of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and p38 MAPK. Although the family of MAPKAPKs shares sequence similarity, it demonstrates selectivity for the upstream activator. Here we demonstrate that each of the ERK- and p38 MAPK-regulated MAPKAPKs contains a MAPK docking site positioned distally to the residue(s) phosphorylated by MAPKs. The isolated MAPK docking sites show specificity for the upstream activator similar to that reported for the full-length proteins. Moreover, replacement of the ERK docking site of p90 ribosomal S6 kinase with the p38 MAPK docking site of MAPKAPK2 converts p90 ribosomal S6 kinase into a stress-activated kinase in vivo. It is apparent that mechanisms controlling events downstream of the proline-directed MAPKs involve specific MAPK docking sites within the carboxyl termini of the MAPKAPKs that determine the cascade in which the MAPKAPK functions.