Protein kinase C theta (PKC theta) is known to induce NF-kappa B, an essential transcriptional element in T cell receptor/CD28-mediated interleukin-2 production but also T cell survival. Here we provide evidence that PKC theta is physically and functionally coupled to Akt1 in this signaling pathway. First, T cell receptor/CD3 ligation was sufficient to induce activation as well as plasma membrane recruitment of PKC theta. Second, PKC theta selectively cooperated with Akt1, known to act downstream of CD28 co-receptor signaling, in activating a NF-kappa B reporter in T cells. Third, Akt1 function was shown to be required for PKC theta-mediated NF-kappa B transactivation. Fourth, PKC theta co-immunoprecipitated with Akt1; however, neither Akt1 nor PKC theta served as a prominent substrate for each other in vitro as well as in intact T cells. Finally, plasma membrane targeting of PKC theta and Akt1 exerted synergistic transactivation of the I-kappa B kinase beta/inhibitor of NF-kappa B/NF-kappa B signaling cascade independent of T cell activation. Taken together, these findings suggest a direct cross-talk between PKC theta and Akt1 in Jurkat T cells.