In rat hepatocytes, vanadate modifies neither the intracellular concentration of cyclic AMP nor the -cyclic AMP/+cyclic AMP activity ratio for cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. Vanadate can, however, counteract the increase in cyclic AMP and the increase in the -cyclic AMP/+cyclic AMP activity ratio of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase induced by glucagon. On the other hand, vanadate treatment of hepatocytes can produce a time- and concentration-dependent increase in cyclic AMP- and Ca2+-independent casein kinase activity. Maximal activation at the optimal time with 5 mM-vanadata was about 70% over control. A clear relationship was observed between the activation of casein kinase and the inactivation of glycogen synthase after vanadate treatment. These results suggest that casein kinase activity may be involved in vanadate actions in rat hepatocytes.