Since insulin effects on glucose transport persist in phorbol ester "desensitized" or "down-regulated" BC3H-1 myocytes, we reexamined the evidence for protein kinase C (PKC) depletion. After 24 hrs of 5 microM 12-0-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate (TPA) treatment, PKC-directed histone phosphorylation and acute TPA effects on glucose transport were lost, but PKC-dependent vinculin phosphorylation was still evident. Hydroxylapatite (HAP) chromatography revealed loss of a type III, but not a type II, PKC-dependent vinculin phosphorylation. Immunoblots of cytosolic preparations of PKC-"depleted" myocytes confirmed the retention of PKC. Our findings indicate that TPA "down-regulated" BC3H-1 myocytes contain immunoreactive and functionally active PKC. The latter may explain the continued effectiveness of both insulin and diacylglycerol (DiC8) for stimulating glucose transport in "down-regulated" cells.