When stimulated, endothelial cells release arachidonic acid from phospholipids and oxidize it to eicosanoids. The rate-limiting step in this pathway is the initial release step, catalyzed by phospholipase(s), a process that exhibits growth-dependent changes. We examined the role of protein kinase C (PKC) as a regulator of this process. Activators and inhibitors of protein kinase C, used at different growth states, demonstrated distinct differences in their effects on arachidonic acid release, consistent with a growth-dependent change in PKC activity (with greater activity in proliferating cells compared with quiescent cells). Although immunoreactive PKC was slightly greater in the proliferating cells, there was a more striking redistribution of PKC activity between cytosol and membrane. To identify the cause, we measured the diacylglycerol (DG) content and found that DG concentrations decreased as cells progressed from preconfluence to confluence. Further studies demonstrated increases in DG kinase and DG lipase in confluent compared with preconfluent cells, consistent with the alterations in DG content. These findings suggest that growth-dependent changes in DG lipase and DG kinase activities regulate basal DG levels and PKC activity. The consequent alteration in PKC activity regulates the growth-dependent changes in arachidonic acid release.