12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) treatment of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells resulted in an increased incorporation of 32Pi and [methyl-3H]choline into choline-containing phosphoglycerides (PC). In pulse-chase experiments, TPA treatment caused an increased release of [methyl-3H]choline from the PC fraction of prelabeled cells. When cells were prelabeled with [3H]arachidonic acid and [14C]palmitic acid, TPA treatment resulted in an increased synthesis of 14C, 3H-diglycerides. Further studies were done to determine the relationship between PC breakdown and diglyceride synthesis. Cells were preincubated with ether-linked 1-O-[3H]hexadecyl-2-lyso-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine which was acylated to form 1-O-[3H]hexadecyl-2-acyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine. Subsequent treatment of these cells with TPA resulted in an increased synthesis of 1-O-[3H]hexadecyl-2-acyl-sn-glycerol compared to cells not stimulated with TPA. These findings demonstrate that TPA stimulates PC turnover in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells and provide evidence for a novel mechanism of diglyceride formation.