Nervous system tissue from Panulirus interruptus has an enzyme activity that behaves like calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM KII) This activity phosphorylates known targets of CaM KII, such as synapsin I and autocamtide 3. It is inhibited by a CaM KII-specific autoinhibitory domain peptide. In addition, this lobster brain activity displays calcium-independent activity after autophosphorylation, another characteristic of CaM KII. A cDNA from the lobster nervous system was amplified using polymerase chain reaction. The fragment was cloned and found to be structurally similar to CaM KII. Serum from rabbits immunized with a fusion protein containing part of this sequence immunoprecipitated a CaM KII enzyme activity and a family of phosphoproteins of the appropriate size for CaM KII subunits. Lobster CaM KII activity is found in the brain and stomatogastric nervous system including the commissural ganglia, commissures, stomatogastric ganglion and stomatogastric nerve. Immunoblot analysis of these same regions also identifies bands at an apparent molecular weight characteristic of CaM KII.