In this study the effects of stable and intermittent high glucose concentrations on ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin production, PKC activity and PKCbetaI, betaII and delta isoforms expression in cultured HUVEC have been examined. In stable high glucose ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin concentration and mRNA expression increased, and this effect was even more evident in intermittent high glucose. PKC activity increased in fluctuating glucose compared to stable high glucose, due to an over-expression of betaI, betaII and delta isoforms. ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin, after the adding of total PKC inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide-I (BIMI-I) and LY379196, a specific inhibitor of PKCbeta, were equally reduced. 8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a sensitive indicator of oxidative damage to DNA, increased in stable and even more in intermittent high glucose and was reduced by both BIMI-I and LY379196. However, when thenoyltrifluoroacetone (TTFA), an inhibitor of mitochondrial complex II and the SOD mimetic Mn(III)tetrakis(4-benzoic acid) porphyrin chloride (MnTBAP) were added, all adhesion molecules, any PKC isoforms expression and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine were normalized in both constant and oscillating glucose. In conclusion intermittent high glucose induces a greater expression of the adhesion molecules than stable high glucose; this effect seems to be related to an activation of PKCbeta, but completely dependent from mitochondrial free radicals over-production.