Phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) is synthesized in mammalian cells by two base-exchange enzymes: PtdSer synthase (PSS)-1 primarily uses phosphatidylcholine as a substrate for exchange with serine, whereas PSS2 uses phosphatidylethanolamine (PtdEtn). We previously expressed murine PSS1 in McArdle hepatoma cells. The activity of PSS1 in vitro and the synthesis of PtdSer and PtdSer-derived PtdEtn were increased, whereas PtdEtn synthesis from the CDP-ethanolamine pathway was inhibited [Stone, Cui and Vance (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 7293-7302]. We have now cloned and stably expressed a murine PSS2 cDNA in McArdle cells and M.9.1.1 cells [which are ethanolamine-requiring mutant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells defective in PSS1]. Expression of the PSS2 in M.9.1.1 cells reversed the ethanolamine auxotrophy. However, the PtdEtn content was not normalized unless the culture medium was supplemented with ethanolamine. In both M.9.1.1 and hepatoma cells transfected with PSS2 cDNA the rate of synthesis of PtdSer and PtdSer-derived PtdEtn did not exceed that in parental CHO cells or control McArdle cells respectively, in contrast to cells expressing similar levels of murine PSS1. These observations suggest that PtdSer synthesis via murine PSS2, but not PSS1, is regulated by end-product inhibition. Moreover, expression of murine PSS2 in McArdle cells did not inhibit PtdEtn synthesis via the CDP-ethanolamine pathway, whereas expression of similar levels of PSS1 activity inhibited this pathway by approx. 50%. We conclude that murine PSS1 and PSS2, which are apparently derived from different genes, independently modulate phospholipid metabolism. In addition, mRNAs encoding the two synthases are differentially expressed in several murine tissues, supporting the idea that PSS1 and PSS2 might perform unique functions.