Postsynaptic striatal neurodegeneration occurs through unknown mechanisms, but it is linked to high extracellular levels of synaptic dopamine. Dopamine-mediated cytotoxicity of striatal neurons occurs through two distinct pathways: autoxidation and the D1 dopamine receptor-linked signaling pathway. Here we investigated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways activated upon the acute stimulation of D1 dopamine receptors. In SK-N-MC neuroblastoma cells, endogenously expressing D1 dopamine receptors, dopamine caused activation of phosphorylated (p-)ERK1/2 and of the stress-signaling kinases, p-JNK and p-p38 MAPK, in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Selective stimulation of D1 receptors with the agonist SKF R-38393 caused p-ERK1/2, but not p-JNK or p-p38 MAPK activation, in a manner sensitive to the receptor-selective antagonist SCH 23390, protein kinase A inhibition (KT5720), and MEK1/2 inhibition (U0126 or PD98059). Activation of ERK by D1 dopamine receptors resulted in oxidative stress and cytotoxicity. In cells transfected with a catalytically defective mutant of MEK1, the upstream ERK-specific kinase, both dopamine- and SKF R-38393-mediated cytotoxicity was markedly attenuated, confirming the participation of the ERK signaling pathway. Cell fractionation studies showed that only a small amount of p-ERK1/2 was translocated to the nucleus, with the majority retained in the cytoplasm. From coimmunoprecipitation studies, p-ERK was found to form stable heterotrimeric complexes with the D1 dopamine receptor and β-arrestin2. In cells transfected with the dominant negative mutant of β-arrestin2, the formation of such complexes was substantially inhibited. These data provide novel mechanistic insights into the role of ERK in the cytotoxicity mediated upon activation of the D1 dopamine receptor.