Soluble guanylate cyclase was found to be phosphorylated by protein kinase C in intact PC12 pheochromocytoma cells. The phosphate incorporation into guanylate cyclase upon addition of phorbol 12-O-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) to PC12 cells in culture coincided with an increased intracellular cGMP level. A strong correlation between phosphate incorporation into guanylate cyclase and increased cGMP level was also observed by time-course and dose-response studies of the PMA effect, as well as when cells were treated with various phorbol esters and diacylglycerols or with various protein kinase C inhibitors. The cAMP system and the presence of extracellular Ca2+ were found not to be involved in guanylate cyclase phosphorylation. The phosphorylation and activation of guanylate cyclase by protein kinase C represent a possible mechanism whereby agonist-stimulation of receptors coupled to phosphoinositide hydrolysis induces cGMP synthesis.