Prostaglandin E1 (2.5 mug/ml) enhanced the level of cyclic adenosine 3':5'-monophosphate (cyclic AMP) three to four times in Yoshida ascites sarcoma (YS) cells cultured in vitro. When Ricinus communis toxin (RC-toxin) was added 30 min after the addition of prostaglandin E1, the enhanced level of cyclic AMP in the YS cells decreased rapidly. Of RC-toxin, 0.2 mug/ml was enough to produce the maximum effect. By addition of 5 mM lactose with RC-toxin, approximately 60% of the RC-toxin effect on the levels of cyclic AMP was abolished. This indicates that the specific binding of RC-toxin on the surface membrane is largely responsible for the observed decrease of the cyclic AMP level. The toxin treatment did not induce either leakage of cyclic AMP from the cell or change in the activity of cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase. However, the treatment of YS cells with RC-toxin caused a decrease of adenylate cyclase activity when the activity was measured at a substrate concentration of 0.15 mM ATP. In contrast, there was little difference with the control when the activity was assayed at a higher ATP concentration, 0.24 mM. It was found that the K-m of adenylate cyclase for ATP was changed by RC-toxin from 0.1 to 0.25 mM, and that the Mg2+ activation of the enzyme observable in untreated cells disappeared. These results suggested that the decrease in the level of cyclic AMP in YS cells induced by RC-toxin can be explained in terms of the change in K-m of the adenylate cyclase activity.