Oxidants can be considered early growth signals, since they have been shown to activate a number of pathways that are also stimulated by growth factors. In particular, H2O2 activates the protein kinase C signal transduction pathway in smooth muscle cells. These events certainly play a role in the activation of the DNA synthesis machinery although it is still unclear whether they can also regulate the lethal response. Evidence exists of an oxidant-mediated increase in tyrosine protein phosphorylation as an early event in the signal transduction cascade of growth factor receptors, leading to augmentation of cell proliferation. Oxidants can also induce transcription of enzymes, such as ornithine decarboxylase and the phosphatase CL-100. CL-100 is the first example of a new class of protein phosphatases responsible for modulating the activation of MAP kinase following exposure of quiescent cells to growth factors and further implicates MAP kinase activation/ deactivation in the cellular response to hydrogen peroxide. Moreover H2O2 activates the MAP kinase cascade by stimulating the tyrosine kinase and protein kinase C pathways. JNK1, a relative of the MAP kinase group, is activated by dual phosphorylation at Thr and Tyr during the UV response. RRR-alpha-tocopherol and RRR-beta-tocopherol have different and competing effects on smooth muscle cell proliferation, indicating that they do not act as antioxidants. The earliest event brought by RRR-alpha-tocopherol in the signal transduction cascade contolling receptor mediated cell growth is the inhibition of the transcription factor AP-1, activated by phorbol esters. RRR-beta-tocopherol alone is without effect but in combination with RRR-alpha-tocopherol prevents the AP-1-inhibiting effect of the latter. Protein kinase C is inhibited by RRR-alpha-tocopherol and not by RRR-beta-tocopherol, which also in this case prevented the effect of RRR-alpha-tocopherol. The inhibition of RRR-alpha-tocopherol of protein kinase C is not the consequence of a direct interaction but is due to a diminution, produced by RRR-alpha-tocopherol of the kinase phosphorylation. A tocopherol binding protein appears to be at the basis of the RRR-alpha-tocopherol,that discriminates between RRR-alpha-tocopherol and RRR-beta-tocopherol and initiates a cascade of events at the level of cell signal transduction leading to cell proliferation inhibition.