The effect of galanin (GAL) on basal and phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) induced protein phosphorylation in rat ventral hippocampal miniprisms was investigated. GAL (0.5, 1 and 2 microM) inhibited PDBu stimulation in a concentration-dependent manner without altering basal protein phosphorylation. This inhibitory effect was prevented by the GAL antagonist galantide. GAL did not affect either the activity of protein kinase C (PKC) from rat brain or basal phosphorylation in ventral hippocampal hippogenates, suggesting that it did not directly modulate PKC activity. Depolarization of miniprisms from ventral hippocampi by 18 mM K+ prevented the effect of GAL on PDBu-induced phosphorylation. The results indicate that GAL indirectly regulates neuronal protein phosphorylation by a GAL receptor-mediated action.