PTH stimulates calcium absorption by renal distal convoluted tubules. The PTH receptor is capable of coupling to adenylyl cyclase and phospholipase C. However, it is not known whether the actions of PTH require activation of both pathways. Three approaches were taken to identify the signaling pathways responsible for stimulating calcium entry in distal convoluted tubule cells: second messengers formed in response to PTH were identified, the effects on calcium uptake of inhibiting protein kinase A (PKA) or protein kinase C (PKC) with chemical or peptide blockers were determined, and calcium transport was reconstituted by the addition of exogenous second messengers. PTH increased cAMP formation in primary cultures of mouse distal and proximal tubule cells. However, PTH stimulated inositol trisphosphate formation only in proximal tubule cells. Blocking PKA with Rp-cAMPS or the cAMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor inhibited PTH-stimulated Ca uptake. Likewise, the PKC inhibitors, calphostin C and PKC pseudosubstrate, inhibited PTH-induced calcium uptake. Addition of forskolin (30 nM) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (10 nM) alone had no effect on Ca uptake. However, when added in combination, Ca uptake was stimulated to nearly the same extent as with concentrations of PTH that maximally stimulate calcium transport. We conclude that stimulation of calcium uptake by distal convoluted tubule cells requires activation of both PKA and PKC.