Cartducin, a paralog of Acrp30/adiponectin, is a secretory protein produced by both chondrogenic precursors and proliferating chondrocytes, and belongs to a novel C1q family of proteins. We have recently shown that cartducin promotes the growth of both mesenchymal chondroprogenitor cells and chondrosarcoma-derived chondrocytic cells in vitro. However, the cartducin-signaling pathways responsible for the regulation of cell proliferation have not been documented. In this study, we examined whether cartducin exists in serum and further investigated the intracellular signaling pathways stimulated by cartducin in mesenchymal chondroprogenitor cells. Western blot analysis showed that, unlike Acrp30/adiponectin, cartducin was undetectable in mouse serum. Next, mesenchymal chondroprogenitor N1511 cells were stimulated with cartducin, and three major groups of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway were examined. Cartducin activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and Akt, but not c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) nor p38 MAPK. The MEK1/2 inhibitor, U0126, blocked cartducin-stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation and suppressed the DNA synthesis induced by cartducin in N1511 cells. The PI3K inhibitor, LY294002, blocked cartducin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and a decrease in cartducin-induced DNA synthesis in N1511 cells was also observed. These data suggest that cartducin is a peripheral skeletal growth factor, and that the proliferation of mesenchymal chondroprogenitor cells stimulated by cartducin is associated with activations of the ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways.