Angiotensin II was shown to activate S6-kinase in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in a dose- (10(-9)-10(-6) M) and time-dependent manner. Pretreatment of quiescent cells with 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate had no effect on the activation levels of the kinase at the hormone levels used. However, stimulation of S6-kinase activity by angiotensin II was markedly inhibited by the inclusion of amiloride hydrochloride in serum-free medium during activation procedures. Angiotensin was not mitogenic for VSMC at even the highest doses used (10(-6) M). These findings support the notion that raised intracellular pH results in the activation of protein synthesis in quiescent cells.