Phosphorylation of the human prostacyclin (PGI(2)) receptor (hIP-R) by diacylglycerol-regulated protein kinase C (PKC) has been reported to be responsible for its rapid desensitization in HEK293 cells. In this study we demonstrate, that human fibroblasts reveal a much slower hIP-R desensitization kinetics, which was neither affected by stimulation nor inhibition of PKC by either phorbol 12-myristate-13-acetate or GF-109203X suggesting a different cellular mechanism. Although agonist-promoted sequestration of a C-terminally green fluorescent protein-tagged hIP-R was demonstrated, it did not account for the long-term desensitization. Concanavalin A did not abolish, but accelerated receptor desensitization kinetics. Resensitization of hIP-R involved receptor recycling and/or de novo synthesis of receptor protein, depending on the duration of prior desensitization. This is the first study investigating the mechanisms of hIP-R desensitization in intact human cells naturally expressing hIP-R. Our data suggest, that a hitherto unknown mechanism of hIP-R long-term desensitization, which is independent of receptor phosphorylation by conventional and novel type PKC isoforms or endocytosis, is a key event in regulating the cellular responsiveness to PGI(2).