To investigate the molecular basis of the hypertrophic action of angiotensin II (AII) in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC), we have examined the ability of the hormone to regulate the function of the translational repressor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). Addition of AII to quiescent aortic SMC potently increased the phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 as revealed by a decreased electrophoretic mobility and an increased phosphate content of the protein. The stimulation of 4E-BP1 phosphorylation was maximal at 15 min and persisted up to 120 min. Results from affinity chromatography on m7GTP-agarose demonstrated that AII-induced phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 promotes its dissociation from eIF4E in target cells. Further characterization of 4E-BP1 phosphorylation by phosphoamino acid analysis and phosphopeptide mapping revealed that 4E-BP1 is phosphorylated on eight distinct peptides containing serine and threonine residues in AII-treated cells. The combination of results obtained from kinetics experiments, phosphopeptide analysis of in vitro and in vivo phosphorylated 4E-BP1, and pharmacological studies with the MAP kinase kinase inhibitor PD 98059 provided strong evidence that the MAP kinases ERK1/ERK2 are not involved in the regulation of 4E-BP1 phosphorylation in aortic SMC. Together, our results demonstrate that AII treatment of vascular SMC leads to hyperphosphorylation of the translational regulator 4E-BP1 and to its dissociation from eIF4E by a MAP kinase-independent mechanism.