Adenosine via an adenosine A(1) receptor (A(1)R) is a negative feedback inhibitor of adrenergic stimulation in the heart, protecting it from toxic effects of overstimulation. Stimulation of the A(1)R results in the activation of G(i) protein, release of free Gbetagamma-subunits, and activation/translocation of PKC-epsilon to the receptor for activated C kinase 2 protein at the Z-line of the cardiomyocyte sarcomere. Using an anti-Gbetagamma peptide, we investigated the role of these subunits in the A(1)R stimulation of phospholipase C (PLC), with the premise that the resulting diacylglycerol provides for the activation of PKC-epsilon. Inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate release was an index of PLC activity. Chlorocyclopentyl adenosine (CCPA), an A(1)R agonist, increased inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate production by 273% in mouse heart homogenates, an effect absent in A(1)R knockout hearts and inhibited by anti-Gbetagamma peptide. In a second study, p38 MAPK and heat shock protein 27 (HSP27), found by others to be associated with the loss of myocardial contractile function, were postulated to play a role in the actions of A(1)R. Isoproterenol, a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist, increased the Ca(2+) transient and sarcomere shortening magnitudes by 36 and 49%, respectively. In the rat cardiomyocyte, CCPA significantly reduced these increases, an action blocked by the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB-203580. While CCPA significantly increased the phosphorylation of HSP27, this action was inhibited by isoproterenol. These data indicate that the activation of PKC-epsilon by A(1)R results from the activation of PLC via free Gbetagamma-subunits released upon A(1)R-induced dissociation of G(i)alphabetagamma. Attenuation of beta-adrenergic-induced contractile function by A(1)R may involve the activation of p38 MAPK, but not HSP27.