The purpose of this investigation was to explore the prognostic value of phospholipase C delta (PLCD) genes in early stage pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and its potential molecular mechanisms. The prognostic value of PLCD genes in early stage PDAC was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model. Genome-wide correlation analysis was performed on PLCD3 to identify the highly correlated genes in the transcriptome. Then, PLCD3 and these correlated genes together underwent a bioinformatics analysis to elucidate the potential molecular biological functions of PLCD3 in PDAC. PLCD1 and PLCD3 are significantly overexpressed in PDAC. In PDAC patients, PLCD3 is overexpressed in certain groups of people with a history of alcoholism (P = .032). High expression of PLCD3 was found to be associated with lower overall survival (OS) of patients with early stage PDAC (P = .020; adjusted P = .016). A combination of PLCD3 and clinical variables was able to better predict the outcome of patients with early stage PDAC. These clinical variables are histological grade (P = .001; adjusted P = .001), targeted molecular therapy (P < .001; adjusted P < .001), radiation therapy (P = .002; adjusted P = .039), and residual resection (P = .001; adjusted P = .002). The bioinformatics analysis revealed that PLCD3 is associated with angiogenesis, intracellular signal transduction, and regulation of cell proliferation. In conclusion, PLCD3 may be a potential prognostic biomarker for early stage PDAC. © 2019 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.