The action of angiotensin II (ANG II) was studied in single myocytes from rat portal vein, in which the cytoplasmic Ca++ concentration was estimated by emission from fluorescent dyes and the Ca++ channel current was measured with the whole-cell mode of the patch-clamp technique. ANG II stimulated Ca++ channel current through L-type Ca++ channels and initiated a slow and small increase in the cytoplasmic Ca++ concentration in cells in which intracellular Ca++ stores had been depleted by pretreatment with ryanodine and caffeine. Both Ca++ channel current stimulation and Ca++ responses were selectively inhibited by losartan, indicating activation of angiotensin AT1 receptors. Activation of Ca++ channels by ANG II was insensitive to treatment with pertussis toxin and cholera toxin. Intracellular applications of anti-G alpha q/alpha 11 and anti-phosphatidylinositol antibodies had no effect on the ANG II-induced stimulation of Ca++ channel current, indicating that phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C was not involved in this signaling pathway. Down-regulation of protein kinase C and application of an inhibitor of protein kinase C blocked the ANG II-induced effects. Tricyclodecan-9-yl xanthogenate (an inhibitor of non-phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipases C and phospholipases D) but not propranolol (an inhibitor of phospholipase D-derived diacylglycerol formation) suppressed the ANG II-induced effects. These data suggest that phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C is involved in the ANG II signaling pathway leading to stimulation of L-type Ca++ channels by protein kinase C.