Many cytosolic proteins are recruited to the plasma membrane (PM) during cell signaling and other cellular processes. Recent reports have indicated that phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PtdIns(4,5)P(2)), and phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3)) that are present in the PM play important roles for their specific PM recruitment. To systematically analyze how these lipids mediate PM targeting of cellular proteins, we performed biophysical, computational, and cell studies of the Ca(2+)-dependent C2 domain of protein kinase Calpha (PKCalpha) that is known to bind PS and phosphoinositides. In vitro membrane binding measurements by surface plasmon resonance analysis show that PKCalpha-C2 nonspecifically binds phosphoinositides, including PtdIns(4,5)P(2) and PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3), but that PS and Ca(2+) binding is prerequisite for productive phosphoinositide binding. PtdIns(4,5)P(2) or PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3) augments the Ca(2+)- and PS-dependent membrane binding of PKCalpha-C2 by slowing its membrane dissociation. Molecular dynamics simulations also support that Ca(2+)-dependent PS binding is essential for membrane interactions of PKCalpha-C2. PtdIns(4,5)P(2) alone cannot drive the membrane attachment of the domain but further stabilizes the Ca(2+)- and PS-dependent membrane binding. When the fluorescence protein-tagged PKCalpha-C2 was expressed in NIH-3T3 cells, mutations of phosphoinositide-binding residues or depletion of PtdIns(4,5)P(2) and/or PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3) from PM did not significantly affect the PM association of the domain but accelerated its dissociation from PM. Also, local synthesis of PtdIns(4,5)P(2) or PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3) at the PM slowed membrane dissociation of PKCalpha-C2. Collectively, these studies show that PtdIns(4,5)P(2) and PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3) augment the Ca(2+)- and PS-dependent membrane binding of PKCalpha-C2 by elongating the membrane residence of the domain but cannot drive the PM recruitment of PKCalpha-C2. These studies also suggest that effective PM recruitment of many cellular proteins may require synergistic actions of PS and phosphoinositides.