Induction of protein kinase C (PKC) pathway in the vascular tissues by hyperglycemia has been associated with many of the cellular changes observed in the complications of diabetes. Recently, we have reported that the use of a novel, orally effective specific inhibitor of PKC beta isoform (LY333531) normalized many of the early retinal and renal hemodynamics in rat models of diabetes. In the present study, we have characterized a spectrum of biochemical and molecular abnormalities associated with chronic changes induced by glucose or diabetes in the cultured mesangial cells and renal glomeruli that can be prevented by LY333531. Hyperglycemia increased diacylglycerol (DAG) level in cultured mesangial cells exposed to high concentrations of glucose and activated PKC alpha and beta1 isoforms in the renal glomeruli of diabetic rats. The addition of PKC beta selective inhibitor (LY333531) to cultured mesangial cells inhibited activated PKC activities by high glucose without lowering DAG levels and LY333531 given orally in diabetic rats specifically inhibited the activation of PKC beta1 isoform without decreasing PKC alpha isoform activation. Glucose-induced increases in arachidonic acid release, prostaglandin E2 production, and inhibition of Na+-K+ ATPase activities in the cultured mesangial cells were completely prevented by the addition of LY333531. Oral feeding of LY333531 prevented the increased mRNA expression of TGF-beta1 and extracellular matrix components such as fibronectin and alpha1(IV) collagen in the glomeruli of diabetic rats in parallel with inhibition of glomerular PKC activity. These results suggest that the activation of PKC, predominately the beta isoform by hyperglycemia in the mesangial cells and glomeruli can partly contribute to early renal dysfunctions by alteration of prostaglandin production and Na+-K+ ATPase activity as well as the chronic pathological changes by the overexpression of TGF-beta1 and extracellular matrix components genes.