Vitronectin, found in the extracellular matrix and in circulating blood, has an important role in the control of plasminogen activation. It was shown to be the major protein substrate in human blood fluid for a protein kinase A (PKA) released from platelets upon their physiological stimulation with thrombin. Since vitronectin was shown to have only one PKA phosphorylation site, but to contain 2-3 mol covalently bound phosphate, it was reasonable to assume that other protein kinases might phosphorylate vitronectin at other sites in the protein. We have reported earlier that human serum contains at least three protein kinases, one of which was found to be cAMP independent and to phosphorylate a repertoire of plasma proteins that was very similar to that obtained upon phosphorylation of human plasma with protein kinase C (PKC). Since there are now several examples of proteins with extracellular functions that are phosphorylated by PKC, we undertook to study the phosphorylation of vitronectin by PKC. Here, we show that vitronectin is a substrate for PKC, and characterize the kinetic parameters of this phosphorylation (Km approximately tenfold lower than the concentration of vitronectin in blood), indicating that, from the biochemical point of view, this phosphorylation can occur at the locus of a hemostatic event. We also identify Ser362 as the major PKC phosphorylation site in vitronectin, and confirm this localization by means of synthetic peptides derived from the cluster of basic amino acids in vitronectin surrounding Ser362. We show that the PKC phosphorylation at Ser362 alters the functional properties of vitronectin, attenuating its cleavage by plasmin at Arg361-Ser362. This phosphorylation has the potential to regulate plasmin production from plasminogen by a feedback mechanism involving the above-mentioned plasmin cleavage, a loosening of the vitronectin grip on inhibitor 1 of plasminogen activators, and a subsequent latency of this regulatory inhibitor.