Inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta) as a consequence of its phosphorylation by protein kinase B/Akt (PKB/Akt) has been implicated in cardiac myocyte hypertrophy in response to endothelin-1 or phenylephrine. We examined the regulation of GSK3alpha (which we show to constitute a significant proportion of the myocyte GSK3 pool) and GSK3beta in cardiac myocytes. Although endothelin increases phosphorylation of GSK3 and decreases its activity, the response is less than that induced by insulin (which does not promote cardiac myocyte hypertrophy). GSK3 phosphorylation induced by endothelin requires signalling through the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) cascade and not the PKB/Akt pathway, whereas the reverse is true for insulin. Cardiac myocyte hypertrophy involves changes in morphology, and in gene and protein expression. The potent GSK3 inhibitor 1-azakenpaullone increases myocyte area as a consequence of increased cell length whereas phenylephrine increases both length and width. Azakenpaullone or insulin promotes AP1 transcription factor binding to an AP1 consensus oligonucleotide, but this was significantly less than that induced by endothelin and derived principally from increased binding of JunB protein, the expression of which was increased. Azakenpaullone promotes significant changes in gene expression (assessed by Affymetrix microarrays), but the overall response is less than with endothelin and there is little overlap between the genes identified. Thus, although GSK3 may contribute to cardiac myocyte hypertrophy in some respects (and presumably plays an important role in myocyte metabolism), it does not appear to contribute as significantly to the response induced by endothelin as has been maintained.