Insulin modulates N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the CNS and potentiates currents of recombinant NMDA receptors in a subunit-specific manner in Xenopus oocytes. Previously we identified two sites in the NR2B C-terminus as targets for direct phosphorylation by C-type protein kinases (PKCs). Mutating these sites reduced insulin potentiation of currents by one half, reflecting the PKC-mediated portion of the NR2B insulin effect. The PKC-proline rich tyrosine kinase (Pyk2)-Src family kinase pathway may also mediate insulin potentiation. A dominant negative Pyk2 mutant significantly reduced insulin potentiation when co-expressed with NR2B-containing receptors, suggesting that Pyk2 and downstream Src-family tyrosine kinases are involved, along with PKCs, in insulin potentiation of NR2B. The NR2A C-terminus contains two residues homologous to the NR2B PKC targets. Mutating both these sites eliminated insulin potentiation of NR2A-containing receptors, while co-expression of dominant negative Pyk2 had no effect. Together, these data indicate that PKCs alone mediate the NR2A insulin effect. When tested individually for importance in insulin potentiation, the two PKC sites showed an additive effect in potentiation of NR2A-containing receptors. Insulin modulation of NR2A-containing receptors is mediated solely by PKCs, whereas insulin modulation of NR2B-containing receptors is mediated by PKCs and tyrosine kinases (PTKs).