An unresolved question in cardiac biology is whether distinct signaling pathways are responsible for the development of pathological and physiological cardiac hypertrophy in the adult. Physiological hypertrophy is characterized by a normal organization of cardiac structure and normal or enhanced cardiac function, whereas pathological hypertrophy is associated with an altered pattern of cardiac gene expression, fibrosis, cardiac dysfunction, and increased morbidity and mortality. The elucidation of signaling cascades that play distinct roles in these two forms of hypertrophy will be critical for the development of more effective strategies to treat heart failure. We examined the role of the p110alpha isoform of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) for the induction of pathological hypertrophy (pressure overload-induced) and physiological hypertrophy (exercise-induced) by using transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative (dn) PI3K(p110alpha) mutant specifically in the heart. dnPI3K transgenic mice displayed significant hypertrophy in response to pressure overload but not exercise training. dnPI3K transgenic mice also showed significant dilation and cardiac dysfunction in response to pressure overload. Thus, PI3K(p110alpha) appears to play a critical role for the induction of physiological cardiac growth but not pathological growth. PI3K(p110alpha) also appears essential for maintaining contractile function in response to pathological stimuli.