Insulin and phorbol esters stimulated DNA synthesis in rat H4 hepatoma cells. Insulin and phorbol ester induction of thymidine incorporation was dose-dependent, with a maximal 4.2- and 3.0-fold increases at concentrations of 1 × 10-9M and 1 μM, respectively. Phorbol esters in combination with increasing concentrations of insulin resulted in additive effects, but only at submaximal insulin concentrations. The combination failed to increase thymidine incorporation above the maximal effects produced by insulin alone. When cells were pretreated with phorbol esters for 24h to produce protein kinase-C (PKC) deficiency, basal DNA synthesis was depressed. Pretreatment with phorbol esters abolished the effects of phorbol esters to induce DNA synthesis but did not impair the magnitude of insulin-induced DNA synthesis. Thus, although phorbol ester-activatable PKC-activity was necessary for basal DNA synthesis, it was not necessary for insulin-induction of DNA synthesis in H4 cells. © 1990.