Current treatments of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are inadequate and new therapies are being developed that target specific cellular signaling proteins associated with tumor growth. One potential target is protein kinase C (PKC)-alpha, a signaling molecule with an important role in cell regulation and proliferation. The present study examines the expression levels of PKC-alpha in NSCLC to better understand the distribution of PKC-alpha in NSCLC. We analyzed tumor specimens from an independent tumor tissue bank to determine PKC-alpha protein and messenger RNA gene expression in NSCLC. In addition, we used publicly available gene expression array data to further understand PKC-a-associated gene expression profiles in NSCLC. We found that PKC-alpha is highly expressed in < or = 20% of patients with NSCLC. We also found that PKC-alpha was preferentially expressed in adenocarcinoma compared with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.