A major aldehydic end product of the peroxidation of arachidonic acid, 4-hydroxy-2,3-nonenal (HNE), has recently been considered for its potential involvement in a variety of cell functions. Here we report on the differential regulation of rat hepatocyte protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms by concentrations of HNE actually detectable in specific biological fluids or tissues. PKC βI and, to a much greater extent, PKC βII activities were markedly increased by 0.1 μmol/L HNE (final concentration in cell medium) whereas they were unaffected or even inhibited by 1 to 10 μmol/L HNE. On the contrary, the calcium independent PKC δ activity was inhibited by 0.1 μmol/L and increased by 1 and 10 μmol/L. Further, we show here that HNE-induced stimulation of PKC βI and βII activities, both in cytosolic and in membrane fractions, is paralleled by a marked stimulation of the anterograde transport of a lysosomal enzyme within the central vacuolar system. In fact, the treatment with 0.1 μmol/L HNE accelerated the PKC-dependent transport of lysosomal procathepsin D from the trans-Golgi network to the endosomal-lysosomal compartment and, in addition, increased the exocytosis of mature cathepsin D (CD) from these compartments. On the other hand, hepatocyte cotreatment with a selective inhibitor of classic PKCs prevented the aldehyde-induced activation of CD transport. These results support the possible involvement of HNE in the PKC-dependent regulation of the traffic of secretory glycoproteins, and point to remarkable implications of this aldehyde in the pathophysiology of various exocytic processes including hepatocyte lipoprotein secretion.