In this study we used the bovine thoracic aorta endothelial cell line AG 4762 and primary bovine aortic endothelial cells to investigate the formation of phosphatidic acid (PA) in response to activation of P2-purinergic receptors. 2-Methylthio ATP (2MeSATP) stimulated the formation of [32P]-PA in bovine aortic endothelial cells labelled with 32Pi, for 2.5 hr. A comparison of the response to other ATP analogues suggests that this was mediated via a P2y-purinergic receptor. Using various agonists at 30 μM there was a correlation between the formation of [32P]PA and of total inositol phosphates in the presence of lithium. The 2MeSATP-stimulated accumulation of [32P]PA showed an initial high rate, followed by a more sustained slower rate. The initial response was independent of extracellular calcium while the later response was dependent on calcium influx. The protein kinase C stimulator phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) produced only a very small enhancement of [32P]PA accumulation compared to 2MeSATP. The 2MeSATP stimulation of both inositol phosphates and [32P]PA was almost eliminated by the presence of PMA. Using cells prelabelled with [3H]methylcholine 2MeSATP produced only a small non-significant enhancement of [3H]choline formation; PMA by contrast formed a much larger amount of 3H]choline. There was no evidence of a change in [3H]phosphocholine. The dissociation between phospholipase D (PLD) activation and [32P]PA accumulation and the correlation between stimulation of [32P]PA accumulation and phospholipase C (PLC) activation all suggest that, using this protocol for labelling cells, the principle route of the stimulation of formation of [32P]PA is via the activation of PLC followed by metabolism of diacylglycerol (DAG) by DAG kinase. These results show that activation of P2y-purinergic receptors on aortic endothelial cells leads to the formation of phosphatidic acid and that both PLD and PLC pathways are likely to contribute to this response.