C1 domains are compact alpha/beta structural units of about 50 amino acids which tightly bind two zinc ions. These domains were first discovered as the loci of phorbol ester and diacylglycerol binding to conventional protein kinase C isozymes, which contain 2 C1 domains (C1A and C1B) in their N-terminal regulatory regions. We present a comprehensive list of 54 C1 domains occurring singly or doubly in 34 different proteins. Many C1 domains and C1 domain-containing proteins bind phorbol esters, but many others do not. By combining analysis of 54 C1 domain sequences with information from previously reported solution and crystal structure determinations and site-directed mutagenesis, profiles are derived and used to classify C1 domains. Twenty-six C1 domains fit the profile for phorbol-ester binding and are termed "typical." Twenty-eight other domains fit the profile for the overall C1 domain fold but do not fit the profile for phorbol ester binding, and are termed "atypical." Proteins containing typical C1 domains are predicted to be regulated by diacylglycerol, whereas those containing only atypical domains are not.