Purified Ca(2+)-stimulated, Mg(2+)-dependent ATPase (Ca(2+)-ATPase) from human erythrocytes was phosphorylated with a stoichiometry of about 1 mol of phosphate/mol of ATPase at both threonine and serine residues by purified rat brain type III protein kinase C. In the presence of calmodulin, the phosphorylation was markedly reduced. Labeled phosphate from [gamma-32P]ATP was retained on an 86-kDa calmodulin-binding tryptic fragment of Ca(2+)-ATPase but not on 82- and 77-kDa non-calmodulin-binding fragments. Similarly, fragmentation of the phosphorylated Ca(2+)-ATPase by calpain I revealed that calmodulin-binding fragments (127 and 125 kDa) retained phosphate label whereas a non-calmodulin-binding fragment (124 kDa) did not. The calmodulin-binding domain, located about 12 kDa from the carboxyl terminus of the Ca(2+)-ATPase, was thus located as a site of protein kinase C phosphorylation. A synthetic peptide corresponding to a segment of the calmodulin-binding domain (H2 N-R-G-L-N-R-I-Q-T-Q-I-K-V-V-N-COOH) was indeed phosphorylated at the single threonine residue within this sequence. The additional serine phosphorylation site was carboxyl terminal to the calmodulin domain. Phosphorylation by purified type III protein kinase C (canine heart) antagonized the calmodulin activation of the Ca(2+)-ATPase, particularly at lower Ca2+ concentrations (0.2-1.0 microM). By contrast, a purified but unresolved protein kinase C isoenzyme mixture from rat brain stimulated the activity of Ca(2+)-ATPase prepared in asolectin, but not glycerol, by more than 2-fold in the presence of the ionophore A23187, without increasing its Ca2+ sensitivity. The results clearly indicate that human erythrocyte Ca(2+)-ATPase is a substrate of protein kinase C, but the effect of phosphorylation on the activity of the enzyme depends on the isoenzyme form of protein kinase C used and on the lipid associated with the Ca(2+)-ATPase.