Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) is a nuclear receptor activated by fatty acids, hypolipidemic drugs, and peroxisome proliferators (PPs). Like other nuclear receptors, PPARalpha is a phosphoprotein whose activity is affected by a variety of growth factor signaling cascades. In this study, the effects of protein kinase C (PKC) on PPARalpha activity were explored. In vivo phosphorylation studies in COS-1 cells transfected with murine PPARalpha showed that the level of phosphorylated PPARalpha is increased by treatment with the PP Wy-14,643 as well as the PKC activator phorbol myristol acetate (PMA). In addition, inhibitors of PKC decreased Wy-14,643-induced PPARalpha activity in a variety of reporter assays. Overexpressing PKCalpha, -beta, -delta, and -zeta affected both basal and Wy-14,643-induced PPARalpha activity. Four consensus PKC phosphorylation sites are contained within the DNA binding (C-domain) and hinge (D-domain) regions of rat PPARalpha (S110, T129, S142, and S179), and their contribution to receptor function was examined. Mutation of T129 or S179 to alanine prevented heterodimerization of PPARalpha with RXRalpha, lowered the level of phosphorylation by PKCalpha and PKCdelta in vitro, and lowered the level of phosphorylation of transfected PPARalpha in transfected cells. In addition, the T129A mutation prevented PPARalpha from binding DNA in an electromobility shift assay. Together, these studies demonstrate a direct role for PKC in the regulation of PPARalpha, and suggest several PKCs can regulate PPARalpha activity through multiple phosphorylation sites.