Protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms are key mediators in hormone, growth factor, and neurotransmitter triggered pathways of cell activation (Nishizuka: Science 233:305-312, 1986; Nature 334:661-665, 1988). Stimulation of kinase activity by diacylglycerol and calcium often leads to translocation of PKC from the cytosol to a particulate fraction (Kraft and Anderson: Nature 301:621-623, 1983). The beta isoform of PKC is translocated and degraded much more rapidly than the alpha isoform in phorbolester-stimulated rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells (Huang et al.: J. Biol. Chem. 264:4238-4243, 1989). We report here immunofluorescence evidence that the distributions of PKC alpha and beta are strikingly different in antigen-activated RBL cells. PKC beta associates with perinuclear filaments and filaments that extend from the perinuclear area to the cell periphery whereas PKC alpha concentrates in regions of the cell periphery. This distribution of PKC beta is distinctly different from that of actin filaments and microtubules as determined by phalloidin staining and by anti-tubulin antibody labeling. In contrast, the staining patterns obtained with antibodies to PKC beta and to the intermediate filament protein vimentin are almost identical, indicating that PKC beta associates with vimentin filaments. These bundles of 100 A filaments may provide docking sites for interactions of PKC beta with its substrates and thus confer specificity to the actions of this isoform.