The small GTP-binding protein Rho functions as a molecular switch in the formation of focal adhesions and stress fibers, cytokinesis and transcriptional activation. The biochemical mechanism underlying these actions remains unknown. Using a ligand overlay assay, we purified a 160 kDa platelet protein that bound specifically to GTP-bound Rho. This protein, p160, underwent autophosphorylation at its serine and threonine residues and showed the kinase activity to exogenous substrates. Both activities were enhanced by the addition of GTP-bound Rho. A cDNA encoding p160 coded for a 1354 amino acid protein. This protein has a Ser/Thr kinase domain in its N-terminus, followed by a coiled-coil structure approximately 600 amino acids long, and a cysteine-rich zinc finger-like motif and a pleckstrin homology region in the C-terminus. The N-terminus region including a kinase domain and a part of coiled-coil structure showed strong homology to myotonic dystrophy kinase over 500 residues. When co-expressed with RhoA in COS cells, p160 was co-precipitated with the expressed Rho and its kinase activity was activated, indicating that p160 can associate physically and functionally with Rho both in vitro and in vivo.