Protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms are altered in colon tumors and upon exposure of intestinal mucosa to nutrients. We evaluated the effects of the PKC inhibitors staurosporine and calphostin C on human Caco-2 intestinal epithelial proliferation, motility, and differentiation. Motility was quantitated by monolayer expansion and the brush border enzymes dipeptidyl dipeptidase (DPDD) and alkaline phosphatase (AP) by synthetic substrate digestion. Staurosporine (0.03-1.0 ng/ml) and calphostin C (10−12M-10−4 M) dose-dependently inhibited monolayer expansion and AP but stimulated DPDD. Proliferation was also inhibited but the effects of each inhibitor on motility, AP, and DPDD were preserved after mitomycin C proliferative blockade, suggesting that these effects were proliferation-independent. PKC inhibitors independently inhibit motility, AP and proliferation in human intestinal Caco-2 epithelial cells, but selectively stimulate the small intestinal differentiation marker DPDD. PKC may regulate small intestinal epithelial differentiation.