The protein kinase C (PKC) activation domain of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) was believed to be the 28-34 region of the molecule. We have now shown that PTH-(29-32) is the smallest PTH fragment that can stimulate significantly membrane-associated PKC activity in ROS 17/2 rat osteosarcoma cells. As was previously shown for full-length PTH-(1-84) and the fully bioactive PTH-(1-34) fragment, there were two peaks in the PKC response to PTH-(29-32): one peak was obtained with low picomolar concentrations and the other with much higher nanomolar concentrations of the fragment. The PKC-activating ability was unaffected by the loss of Asn33 and Phe34, but it was abolished by removing His32. Thus, the PTH-(28-31) and PTH-(29-31) fragments did not stimulate membrane-associated PKC activity. The much larger PTH-(1-31) fragment also did not stimulate membrane-associated PKC activity, although it stimulated adenylyl cyclase as strongly as PTH-(1-34). This functional sensitivity to the loss of the polar His32 was not caused by a specific need for His or another polar amino acid in this position because replacing it with the apolar Leu did not abolish adenylyl cyclase or PKC activation. It is concluded that the minimum, fully functional PKC activation domain of the PTH molecule is Gln29-Asp30-Val31-His32.