Treatment of intact adipocytes with either or both insulin and adrenaline stimulated membrane cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase activity only in the endoplasmic reticulum subfraction. The cyclic GMP-inhibited cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase activity was also found in this fraction. Quantitative Western blotting using a specific polyclonal antibody, raised against the homogeneous 'dense-vesicle' cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase from rat liver, identified a single 63 kDa species which was localized in the adipocyte endoplasmic reticulum fraction. The ability of adrenaline to stimulate adipocyte membrane cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase was shown to be mediated via beta-adrenoceptors and not alpha 1-adrenoceptors. Membrane cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase was stimulated by glucagon but not by vasopressin, A23187 or 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA). Treatment of adipocytes with either chloroquine or dansyl cadaverine failed to affect the ability of insulin to stimulate cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase activity. Treatment of an isolated adipocyte endoplasmic reticulum membrane fraction with purified protein kinase A increased its cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase activity some 2-fold. When this fraction was treated with purified protein kinase A and [32P]ATP, label was incorporated into a 63 kDa protein which was specifically immunoprecipitated with the antiserum against the liver 'dense-vesicle' cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase.