Guanylin and uroguanylin are particulate guanylate cyclase-activating peptides that are secreted from the epithelia of the intestine, kidney, pancreas, and salivary gland. These peptides elicit chloride and bicarbonate secretion via the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. To test the hypothesis that hypertonicity mediates an increase in guanylin and uroguanylin mRNA, we subjected HT29-18-N2 to osmotic stress. Guanylin and uroguanylin RNA were increased substantially in the presence of hypertonicity but only with solutes that were relatively impermeable to the cell membrane. This hypertonicity-mediated increase was transcriptional and did not require protein synthesis. Herbimycin A and mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors SB-203580 and PD-98059 had no effect on basal or induced levels of guanylin or uroguanylin. Both staurosporine and prolonged exposure to phorbol ester reduced basal levels and completely blocked hypertonicity-related increases in guanylin or uroguanylin RNA. These data suggest that serine/theonine protein kinases, possibly protein kinase C (PKC), mediate the hypertonicity-associated increase in guanylin and uroguanylin RNA. We conclude that guanylin and uroguanylin are released in response to hypertonic stress and that regulation of these genes may be mediated by PKC isoforms.