Thrombopoietin (TPO) plays a critical role in megakaryopoiesis through binding to its receptor Mpl. This involves activation of various intracellular signaling pathways, including phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. Their precise role in TPO-mediated proliferation, survival and differentiation is not fully understood. In the present study, we show that TPO induces different biological responses in Mpl-transduced BaF-3 cells, depending on the cell surface density of Mpl and the resulting activation level of signaling pathways. TPO mediates cell proliferation in cells expressing high levels of Mpl but only mediates survival without proliferation in cells expressing low levels of the receptor. By using the kinase inhibitors PD98059 and LY294002, we further showed that the activation level of the PI3K and MAPK p42/44 pathways is a determining factor for the proliferative effect. In cells expressing low levels of Mpl, the survival effect was strongly dependent on the activation level of the PI3K/AKT, but not the MAPK p42/44 pathway. Moreover, this effect was correlated with the phosphorylation level of BAD but not with the expression level of Bcl-X(L). However, PI3K pathway inhibition did not increase apoptosis when BaF-3 cells proliferated in response to TPO, indicating a compensating mechanism from other Mpl signaling pathways in this case.