The regulation and expression of protein kinase C (PKC) and phosphomyristin C (PMC) (a principal substrate of PKC which is the major myristylated protein in lymphocyte and glioma lines that express it) in murine B and T lymphocytes were investigated. Both PMC and PKC are differentially regulated during T-cell development. The level of PMC expression is highest in CD4-8-, intermediate in CD4+8+, and lowest in J11d-, CD4, or CD8 single-positive thymocytes. PKC is equally expressed by all three thymic populations. In striking contrast to thymocytes, resting peripheral lymph node T cells and T-cell clones express little if any PMC and reduced levels of PKC. Neither PKC nor PMC is significantly induced upon the activation of lymph node T cells: treatment with anti-CD3 antibodies or anti-CD3 and interleukin-2 fails to induce PKC, whereas PMC is not induced by anti-CD3 alone and is only slightly induced by anti-CD3 and interleukin-2. In contrast to the situation with T cells, PMC and PKC are constitutively expressed at moderate levels in mature B cells. PMC is greatly increased in B-cell blasts generated by cross-linking the antigen receptor with anti-immunoglobulin. These results demonstrate that PMC and PKC are differentially regulated during the development and activation of B and T cells, suggesting that cellular events that rely upon PKC and PMC may differ during ontogeny and activation of different lymphocyte subsets.