Akt-mediated phosphorylation of forkhead transcription factors is linked to growth factor-stimulated cell survival. We investigated whether the survival activity of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma (NBL) cells is associated with phosphorylation and/or localization changes in forkhead proteins. IGF-I induced phosphorylation of Erks (p42/p44), FKHR (FOXO1a) (Ser 253), FKHRL1 (FOXO3a) (Ser 256), and Akt (Ser 473). PI3-K inhibitor, LY294002, reduced IGF-I-stimulated phosphorylation of FKHR, FKHRL1, and Akt, but did not affect Erk phosphorylation. Using a GFP-FKHR construct, FKHR imported into the nucleus during growth factor withdrawal-induced apoptosis. In addition, IGF-I rescue from serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis is associated with a rapid export of GFP-FKHR into the cytoplasm. Leptomycin B, an inhibitor of Crm1-mediated nuclear export, decreased the level of FKHRL1 phosphorylation in the presence of IGF-I in vector and FKHR overexpressing cells, but had no effect on the phosphorylation status of FKHR. In addition, leptomycin B prevented IGF-I stimulated nuclear export of GFP-FKHR. These studies show IGF-I phosphorylation of FKHR and FKHRL1 via a PI3-K-dependent pathway in NBL cells.