Water-soluble chromatin from rat submandibular gland nuclei was isolated, and had a DNA: RNA:protein ratio of 8:1:20. The spectral properties of this preparation were similar to those described for chromatins from other tissues. The rat submandibular gland chromatin possessed protein phosphokinase activity. It was able to incorporate 32P from [γ-32P]-ATP into chromatin proteins, and into dephospho-phosvitin. The chromatin-associated protein phosphokinase activity (measured with dephospho-phosvitin as substrate) required Mg2+, Na+ or K+ and dithiothreitol for optimal activity. A single injection of isoproterenol influenced the activity of this enzyme system, so that it was decreased at 2 h, showed a transient increase at 4 h, and a large increase at 10-16 h after the injection. This event appears to precede the increase in ribosomal RNA induced by Ipr . By 48 h the chromatin-associated protein kinase returned to the normal control levels. These changes appeared to be commensurate with the corresponding alterations in the non-histone acidic protein complement of these chromatins. Actinomycin D or cycloheximide, when administered 30 min prior to isoproterenol, blocked the increase in chromatin-associated protein kinase at 4 as well as 10 h after the injection of isoproterenol. Injection of pilocarpine did not influence the chromatin-associated protein phosphokinase activity. Dichloroisoproterenol appeared to be antagonistic to the influence of isoproterenol in mediating changes in chromatin-associated protein kinase. The results suggest that the isoproterenol-induced increase in chromatin-bound protein phosphokinase which precedes the increase in RNA synthesis is related to the eventual onset of DNA synthesis in rat submandibular gland stimulated by isoproterenol. The chromatin-bound protein phosphokinase activity (or activities) may have a regulatory role on gene action, mediated through the control of phosphorylation of nuclear non-histone acidic proteins .