The effect of phospholipase C treatment on cardiolipin biosynthesis was investigated in intact H9c2 cardiac myoblasts. Treatment of cells with phosphatidylcholine-specific Clostridium welchii phospholipase C reduced the pool size of phosphatidylcholine compared with controls whereas the pool size of cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol were unaffected. Pulse labeling experiments with [1,3-3H]glycerol and pulse-chase labeling experiments with [1,3-3H]glycerol were performed in cells incubated or pre-incubated in the absence or presence of phospholipase C. In all experiments, radioactivity incorporated into cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol were reduced in phospholipase C-treated cells with time compared with controls indicating attenuated de novo biosynthesis of these phospholipids. Addition of 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol, a cell permeable 1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol analog, to cells mimicked the inhibitory effect of phospholipase C on cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol biosynthesis from [1,3-3H]glycerol indicating the involvement of 1,2-diacyl-sn glycerol. The mechanism for the reduction in cardiolipin and phosphatidylglycerol biosynthesis in phospholipase C-treated cells appeared to be a decrease in the activities of phosphatidic acid:cytidine-5'triphosphate cytidylyltransferase and phosphatidylglycerolphosphate synthase, mediated by elevated 1,2-diacylsn-glycerol levels. Upon removal of phospholipase C from the incubation medium, phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis from [methyl-3H]choline was markedly stimulated. These data suggest that de novo phosphatidylglycerol and cardiolipin biosynthesis may be regulated by 1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol and support the notion that phosphatidylglycerol and cardiolipin biosynthesis may be coordinated with phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis in H9c2 cardiac myoblast cells.