Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) is a major public health concern, however, its neurobiology is poorly understood. We, therefore, studied the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in the pathophysiology of bipolar illness. We determined PKC activity and immunolabeling of various PKC isozymes (i.e., PKC α, PKC βI, PKC βII, and PKC δ) in the cytosol and membrane fractions of platelets obtained from PBD patients and normal control subjects. PKC activity and PKC isozymes were also determined after 8 weeks of pharmacotherapy of PBD patients (n = 16) with mood stabilizers. PKC activity and the protein expression of PKC βI and βII, but not PKC α or PKC δ, were significantly decreased in both membrane as well as cytosol fractions of platelets obtained from medication-free PBD patients compared with normal control subjects. Eight weeks of pharmacotherapy resulted in significantly increased PKC activity but no significant changes in any of the PKC isozymes in PBD patients. These results indicate that decreases of specific PKC isozymes and decreased PKC activity may be associated with the pathophysiology of PBD and that pharmacotherapy with mood stabilizing drugs results in an increase and normalization of PKC activity along with improvement in clinical symptoms. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.