1. We studied effects of the phorbol ester, phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDB), on carbachol-induced contractions of swine trachealis muscle. PDB (1-10 microM) markedly inhibited 5.5 microM-carbachol-induced inositol phosphate synthesis allowing us to study (a) whether the membrane potential-independent component of force (pharmacomechanical coupling component) developed in carbachol-stimulated trachealis muscle is dependent on activation of inositol phospholipid metabolism, and (b) whether carbachol-induced membrane depolarization and contraction are altered in muscle where second messenger signals generated by inositol phospholipid metabolism are inhibited and activation of protein kinase C (PKC) is already maximal. 2. Application of PDB (10 microM) to unstimulated trachealis muscle resulted in a small slowly developing contraction associated with a 10 m V membrane depolarization. PDB-evoked contractions were not influenced by Na+ or Cl- ion substitutions, or administration of amiloride, all of which inhibited PDB-evoked membrane depolarization. 3. Pre-treatment with PDB had no effect on [K+]-force, or [K+]-membrane potential relationships, over a range of extracellular [K+] from 40 to 70 mM. Pretreatment with PDB had no effect on extracellular [Ca2+]-force relationships during 40 mM-K+. 4. Carbachol-evoked contractions of muscle treated with PDB became similar to K+ contractions in regard to effects of organic Ca2+ antagonist drugs or decrease in bathing solution [Ca2+]. At low carbachol concentrations, verapamil plus PDB completely inhibited force development. With 5.5 microM-carbachol, over 90% of total carbachol-induced force was inhibited by verapamil, or nifedipine, plus PDB. 5. Control carbachol-evoked contractions were associated with 20-25 mV membrane depolarizations. In PDB-treated muscle, carbachol-evoked contraction occurred with a blunted depolarization, i.e. about 5 mV. 6. Force controlled by pharmacomechanical coupling mechanisms operating during maintained carbachol-evoked contractions was inhibited by treatment with PDB. Carbachol-induced force dependent on pharmacomechanical coupling mechanisms could be explained by signals generated via inositol phospholipid metabolism. 7. Electromechanical coupling mechanisms were augmented during carbachol in PDB-treated muscle. This appears to be due primarily to changes in the properties or number of surface membrane voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. 8. Data suggest an important role of PKC-mediated phosphorylations for control of both pharmacomechanical coupling mechanisms mediated by activation of inositol phospholipid metabolism and electromechanical coupling mechanisms mediated by effects on operation of surface membrane ion channels.