Multiple endogenous substrates phosphorylated by four distinct protein kinases were identified in particulate and cytosolic fractions from the larval prothoracic gland of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Three prominent particulate-associated phosphoprotein substrates (19, 21, and 34 kDa) were of particular interest. The in vitro phosphorylation of the 19 and 21 kDa peptides was markedly enhanced by cAMP, Ca2+/calmodulin, as well as Ca2+/phospholipids, presumably via cAMP-dependent protein kinase (cAMP-PK), Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (Ca2+/CaM-PK), and protein kinase C (PKC), respectively. The polyamine spermine markedly inhibits both PKC- and cAMP-PK-mediated phosphorylation of the 19 and 21 kDa peptides but had no effect on the Ca2+/CaMP-PK-mediated phosphorylation. Spermine also inhibits the phosphorylation of the 34 kDa peptide via cAMP-PK but does not affect PKC-promoted phosphorylation. In contrast to this differential inhibition of phosphorylation by a polyamine, four cytosolic and three particulate-associated peptides from the prothoracic glands undergo enhanced phosphorylation in the presence of spermine, presumably by stimulating casein kinase II activity. Therefore, polyamines appear to have multiple effects on protein phosphorylation pathways in this important endocrine gland, perhaps representing an important new regulatory control mechanism.