Phosphorylation of SNARE proteins may provide a critical link between cell activation and secretory processes. Platelets contain all three members of the SNAP-23/25/29 gene family, but by comparison to brain tissue, SNAP-23 is the most highly enriched of these proteins in platelets. SNAP-23 function is required for exocytosis from platelet alpha, dense, and lysosomal granules. SNAP-23 was phosphorylated largely on serine residues in platelets activated with thrombin. Phosphorylation kinetics paralleled or preceded granule secretion. Inhibition studies suggested that SNAP-23 phosphorylation proceeds largely through a protein kinase C (PKC) mechanism and purified PKC directly phosphorylated recombinant (r-) SNAP-23 (up to 0.3 mol of phosphate/mol of protein). Five major tryptic phosphopeptides were identified in cellular SNAP-23 isolated from activated platelets; three phosphopeptides co-migrated with those identified in PKC-phosphorylated r-SNAP-23. In contrast, only one major phosphopeptide was identified when SNAP-23, engaged in a ternary SNARE complex, was phosphorylated by PKC. Ion trap mass spectrometry revealed that platelet SNAP-23 was phosphorylated at Ser23/Thr24 and Ser161, after cell activation by thrombin; these sites were also identified in PKC-phosphorylated r-SNAP-23. SNAP-23 mutants that mimic phosphorylation at Ser23/Thr24 inhibited syntaxin 4 interactions, whereas a phosphorylation mutant of Ser161 had only minor effects. Taken together these studies show that SNAP-23 is phosphorylated in platelets during cell activation through a PKC-related mechanism at two or more sites with kinetics that parallel or precede granule secretion. Because mutants that mimic SNAP-23 phosphorylation affect syntaxin 4 interactions, we hypothesize that SNAP-23 phosphorylation may be important for modulating SNARE-complex interactions during membrane trafficking and fusion.