We investigated the effect of hypoglycemic treatment on the activation of the AP-1 transcription factors and the regulation of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) gene expression in multidrug resistant human breast carcinoma MCF-7/ADR cells. Northern blot and gel mobility shift assays showed that hypoglycemic treatment induced c-jun and c-fos gene expression, AP-1 binding activity, as well as bFGF gene expression. Moreover, transfected cells expressing high levels of abnormal c-Jun protein exhibited a reduction in the bFGF protein levels compared to parental cells. A potent protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, H-7 (60 micrograms/ml) suppressed the stress-induced bFGF gene expression. Our study also demonstrated that H-7 did not facilitate the decay of bFGF mRNA. Thus, the suppression of bFGF gene expression by treatment with H-7 was due to the effect of the drug on the synthesis of bFGF mRNA rather than the stability of bFGF mRNA. Our data suggest that hypoglycemia-induced bFGF gene expression is mediated through the activation of PKC and the AP-1 transcription factors.