Double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) induces the transfer of phosphate from ATP to several proteins in extracts of widely divergent eukaryotic cells. Extracts of HeLa cells, rabbit reticulocytes, Xenopus eggs and Arbacia eggs all show dsDNA-dependent protein phosphorylation. The mechanism is specific for dsDNA and will not respond to either RNA or single-stranded DNA. One of the proteins which is phosphorylated in response to dsDNA has a subunit mol. wt. of 90 000 and has been identified as a heat-shock protein (hsp90). Although mouse cell extracts were shown to contain hsp90, they failed to show a dsDNA-dependent protein phosphorylation. The observation that dsDNA can modulate the phosphorylation of a set of proteins raises the possibility that dsDNA may play a role as a cellular regulatory signal.