Our object was to obtain information about the regulatory mechanism which modulates the effect of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) on commitment to growth in human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVE) cells. Firstly, phorbol ester PMA, a known activator of protein kinase C (PKC), was found to be able to act synergistically with bFGF to stimulate 3H thymidine incorporation in HUVE cells. Secondly, bFGF and PMA induced a stimulated phospholipase A2 (PLA2)-catalyzed release of 14C arachidonate. Thirdly, inhibitors of PLA2, PKC and HETE, but not an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase metabolites, inhibited FGF/PMA-stimulated DNA synthesis. Fourth, the stable cyclooxygenase metabolite of prostacyclin was not found to be changed when cells were treated with bFGF plus PMA. The present data suggest that PKC is able of acting synergistically with bFGF in order to stimulate DNA-primary initiation activity in HUVE cells via the PLA2-dependent generation of lipoxygenase metabolites such as HETE.