In many viral infections the host cell carries the viral genome without producing viral particles, a phenomenon known as viral latency. The cellular mechanisms by which viral latency is maintained or viral replication is induced are not known. The modulation of intracellular calcium concentrations by calcium ionophores induced Epstein-Barr viral antigens in lymphoblastoid cell lines that carry the virus. When calcium ionophores were used in conjunction with direct activators of protein kinase C (12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate and a synthetic diacylglycerol), a greater induction of viral antigens was observed than with either agent alone. Activation of protein kinase C may be required for the expression of the viral genome.