There is a pressing need for immunosuppressants with an improved safety profile. The search for novel approaches to blocking T-cell activation led to the development of the selective protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor AEB071 (sotrastaurin). In cell-free kinase assays AEB071 inhibited PKC, with K(i) values in the subnanomolar to low nanomolar range. Upon T-cell stimulation, AEB071 markedly inhibited in situ PKC catalytic activity and selectively affected both the canonical nuclear factor-kappaB and nuclear factor of activated T cells (but not activator protein-1) transactivation pathways. In primary human and mouse T cells, AEB071 treatment effectively abrogated at low nanomolar concentration markers of early T-cell activation, such as interleukin-2 secretion and CD25 expression. Accordingly, the CD3/CD28 antibody- and alloantigen-induced T-cell proliferation responses were potently inhibited by AEB071 in the absence of nonspecific antiproliferative effects. Unlike former PKC inhibitors, AEB071 did not enhance apoptosis of murine T-cell blasts in a model of activation-induced cell death. Furthermore, AEB071 markedly inhibited lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1-mediated T-cell adhesion at nanomolar concentrations. The mode of action of AEB071 is different from that of calcineurin inhibitors, and AEB071 and cyclosporine A seem to have complementary effects on T-cell signaling pathways.