Diacylglycerol kinase (EC 2.7.1.-) was purified 1,650-fold from pig brain cytosol. The purified enzyme showed a single protein band on polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence and absence of sodium dodecyl sulfate. The molecular weight of the kinase was estimated to be 78,000 by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. A similar value (76,000) was obtained by Sephadex G-150 gel filtration. The activity of the purified enzyme was markedly enhanced by either deoxycholate or phospholipids. The extent of activation by phospholipids was in the order of phosphatidylcholine greater than lysophosphatidylcholine greater than phosphatidylethanolamine approximately equal to phosphatidylserine greater than sphingomyelin. Other phospholipids and unsaturated fatty acids were ineffective. Phosphatidylcholines from egg yolk and pig brain, and dioleoyl phosphatidylcholine were similarly effective. Saturated phosphatidylcholines with acyl chain lengths shorter than palmitate also gave a considerable activation. The activity with phosphatidylcholine was from 1.5- to 2.5-fold higher than that measured with deoxycholate. A very small amount of phosphatidylinositol or phosphatidylglycerol potently inhibited the phosphatidylcholine-dependent (but not deoxycholate-dependent) kinase activity. The inhibition by phosphatidylinositol was varied according to its molar ratio to phosphatidylcholine. As little as about 2.5 mol per cent of phosphatidylinositol resulted in 50% inhibition of the phosphatidylcholine-dependent kinase activity. The deoxycholate- and phosphatidylcholine-dependent kinase activities showed almost the same Km values for the substrates. In both cases, the apparent Km values for ATP and diacylglycerol were 300 microM and about 60 microM, respectively. The kinase required Mg2+ for its activity. When compared to deoxycholate, phosphatidylcholine was more effective at higher Mg2+ concentrations. The deoxycholate-dependent activity showed a broad pH optimum at around 8.0, whereas the phosphatidylcholine-dependent activity formed a clear peak at pH 7.4.