Treatment of rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL-2H3) with antigen or ionophore leads to an increase in cellular protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Three major proteins of molecular mass of 72, 92, and 110 kDa are targeted by antigen and a 110-kDa species by ionophore, A23187. The antigen- and ionophore-induced tyrosine phosphorylation responses are dose-dependent and correlate with increases in serotonin release from activated cells. The presence of extracellular Ca2+ is required to sustain the antigen- and ionophore-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation as well as mediator release. A protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor, RG 50864, differentially inhibits the antigen-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation in the decreasing order of 72, 91, and 110-kDa proteins. The compound inhibition of the 72-kDa protein tyrosine phosphorylation correlates with that of serotonin release. In ionophore-stimulated cells, the inhibition of the 110-kDa protein tyrosine phosphorylation and serotonin release by RG 50864 occurs in parallel. These results suggest that the 72- and 110-kDa phosphoproteins may represent the respective regulators of serotonin release in antigen- and ionophore-activated cells. The 110-kDa tyrosine phosphorylated proteins from antigen- and ionophore-stimulated cells exhibit identical electrophoretic mobility and V8 protease-generated phosphopeptide maps, suggesting that these two proteins may be the same. These results provide new evidence that both the stimulatory actions of antigen and ionophore on mediator release are mediated through enhanced protein tyrosine phosphorylation in RBL-2H3 cells. Significantly, the present study suggests the presence of multiple tyrosine phosphorylation signaling pathways in RBL cells and that their selective utility may be determined by the nature of the stimulus.