The data presented here indicate that both membrane Ig and IL-4 receptors transduce signals across the plasma membrane of quiescent B cells, which results in the induction of c-fos and c-myc proto-oncogene mRNA expression. Monoclonal anti-Ig antibodies with specificity for μ, δ, or κ chains, regardless of mitogenicity, induced increased c-fos and c-myc mRNA expression with kinetics and magnitude similar to that observed following stimulation of B cells with IL-4. Maximal levels of c-fos mRNA, approximately 30-fold over background, were observed 30 min after stimulation. Maximal levels of c-myc mRNA, approximately 10-fold over background, were observed 60 min after stimulation. Phorbol myristate acetate alone induced expression of these two oncogenes in a similar fashion, suggesting that protein kinase C may be involved in the regulation of their expression following anti-Ig crosslinking. Ionomycin induced only a small increase in c-myc and c-fos message (three- to four-fold), and did not synergize with phorbol myristate acetate, suggesting that the membrane Ig-mediated calcium mobilization may not play a major role in regulation of c-myc or c-fos expression in mouse B cells. In vitro nuclear run-on analyses indicate that c-myc expression is primarily regulated post-transcriptionally, whereas c-fos expression is regulated at the level of transcription. Anti-sense transcription was found to be constitutive for both the c-myc and C-fos loci and was further induced by anti-Ig and IL-4, suggesting an additional mechanism for regulation of these genes. The observation that both anti-Ig and IL-4 regulate the expression of c-fos and c-myc suggests that multiple second messenger generating systems regulate the expression of these oncogenes in normal B cells and that their expression may be necessary, but is not sufficient to drive quiescent B cells into cell cycle.