Platelet-activating factor (PAF) is a potent proinflammatory phospholipid mediator of the lung. In this study, we demonstrate that PAF receptor mRNA and protein is expressed by human lung fibroblasts. Interaction of PAF with its specific receptor resulted in increases of tyrosine phosphorylation of several intracellular proteins, indicating that the PAF-receptor might be functionally active. PAF-induced transcription of protooncogenes c-fos and c-jun as well as of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 genes in human fibroblasts. Transcription of the interleukins was followed by secretion of the respective proteins. Moreover, PAF enhanced proliferation of fibroblasts in a concentration-dependent manner. Using signaling inhibitors, we demonstrate that PAF-induced transcription of the c-fos, IL-6, and IL-8 genes, as well as proliferation, require activation of pertussis toxin-sensitive G proteins, tyrosine kinases, and protein kinase C (PKC). In contrast, transcription of c-jun was blocked by pertussis toxin, but not by inhibitors for tyrosine kinases or PKC. These data suggest that PAF stimulates distinct signaling pathways in human lung fibroblasts. In addition, the activation of human fibroblasts by PAF leads to enhanced proliferation and to the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, which may contribute to the pathophysiological changes in pulmonary inflammation.