1. Activation of the enzyme protein kinase C (PKC) partially uncouples receptors from the inhibition of Ca2+ current. We have studied the effect of PKC activation on 5-HT1A receptor coupling of Ca2+ currents and 5-HT-induced K+ current (IK,5-HT) in acutely isolated adult rat dorsal raphe neurones. 2. The phorbol ester 4 beta-phorbol 12-myristate, 13-acetate (PMA; 1 microM) did not significantly alter the peak Ca2+ current. A maximal dose of 5-HT inhibited Ca2+ current on average by 52%; after application of PMA, the inhibition was only 30% and the effect was irreversible for the duration of the experiment. 3. The inactive phorbol ester 4 alpha-phorbol (1 microM) did not reduce the effectiveness of 5-HT. When the kinase inhibitor staurosporine (ST; 200 nM) was added, PMA reduced the effect of 5-HT by only 13.9%. ST partially prevented or reversed the effect of PMA, depending on the order of addition. 4. The voltage-dependent rate or re-inhibition by 5-HT was reduced by PMA, suggesting that fewer activated G-protein subunits are available to interact with Ca2+ channel after the action of PMA. 5. In contrast, PMA (1 microM) did not have a significant effect on IK,5-HT. 6. PKC activation has an inhibitory effect on one branch of the 5-HT1A receptor transduction fork, namely inhibition of Ca2+ influx, but not on the activation of IK,5-HT.