The multicellular parasite Schistosoma mansoni undergoes complex physiologic changes during development from infective cercariae to adult worms in the mammalian host. The present study examined changes in protein kinase C (PKC) activity in S. mansoni during parasite maturation. Activation of PKC required Ca+2, phosphatidylserine, and either diacylglycerol or phorbol ester similar to mammalian PKC enzyme. A nine-fold increase in total PKC activity was found in adult worms as compared with larval parasites. Transformation of infective cercariae to parasitic schistosomula was associated with translocation of PKC activity from the cytosolic to membrane fraction. Tegumental extracts demonstrated significant PKC activity, suggesting a signal transduction system in the surface of the parasite. These data indicate that PKC activity is differentially expressed during parasite development and may have critical roles in regulation of cellular events in S. mansoni.