Because microglia have been suggested to produce neurotrophins, we tested this ability in vitro. Rat primary microglia were found to constitutively secrete a limited amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), but nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) were undetectable in the conditioned medium. Stimulation of the cells with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) increased BDNF secretion, and induced NGF secretion. As a first step to examine this regulation system, the association of protein kinase C (PKC) was pharmacologically analyzed. A PKC activator, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, enhanced the secretion of BDNF. Pre-treatment of microglia with a PKC inhibitor, bisindolylmaleimide, suppressed LPS-stimulated BDNF secretion as well as the constitutive one. These results suggest that the PKC signaling cascade is closely associated with BDNF secretion. Among PKC isoforms, PKCα probably plays a role in BDNF secretion, based on the results of experiments using a specific PKC activator, 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-sn-glycerol, and a specific PKC inhibitor, Gö 6976, and by immunoblotting. Taken together, these findings suggest that the secretion of BDNF from microglia is regulated through PKCα-associated signal transduction mechanism. J. Neurosci. Res. 65:322–331, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.