Cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells were stimulated with thrombin (1 unit/ml) for 15-30 s and then lysed with a solution of Triton X-100 containing [gamma-32P]adenosine triphosphate. Thrombin-stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cells showed an enhanced incorporation of 32P into at least 12 different proteins as compared to control cells treated similarly. The observed enhanced phosphorylation required the active site of thrombin because diisopropylphosphoryl-thrombin had no effect on the level of phosphorylation. The molecular weight of one of the phosphoproteins was similar to that of the intermediate filament protein vimentin (55-60 kDa), a major protein in endothelial cells. This 59-kDa protein was Triton X-100-insoluble and reacted on a Western blot with antibody raised in guinea pig against Chinese hamster ovary cell vimentin. Addition of the anti-vimentin antibody to the thrombin-stimulated, phosphorylated lysate immuno-precipitated a single 32P-labeled protein (59 kDa). These results demonstrate that thrombin rapidly stimulates the phosphorylation of vimentin in cultured endothelial cells and links thrombin stimulation to the phosphorylation of a cytoskeletal protein.