Contribution of phosphatidic acid (PA) generated by activated phospholipase (PL) D to PLA2 activation was studied in rat peritoneal mast cells. Exogenous didecanoyl PA induced arachidonate liberation in the permeabilized cells which was inhibited by p-bromophenacyl bromide. Upon exposure of the cells to ethanol in a high enough concentration to prevent PA formation, A23187-induced arachidonate liberation was suppressed by 50% and the rest was completely inhibited by p-bromophenacyl bromide. In contrast, propranolol, which enhanced PA accumulation, significantly increased the arachidonate liberation. These results suggest that A23187-induced PLA2 activation may be potentiated, at least in part, by PA generated through PLD action.