A novel member of the serine/threonine protein kinase gene family, designated sgk, for serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase, was identified in a differential screen for glucocorticoid-inducible transcripts expressed in the Con8.hd6 rat mammary tumor cell line. sgk encodes a protein of 49 kDa which has significant sequence homology (45 to 55% identity) throughout its catalytic domain with rac protein kinase, the protein kinase C family, ribosomal protein S6 kinase, and cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. sgk mRNA is expressed in most adult rat tissues, with the highest levels in the thymus, ovary, and lung, as well as in several rodent and human cell lines. sgk mRNA was stimulated by glucocorticoids and by serum within 30 min, and both inductions were independent of de novo protein synthesis. The transcriptional regulation by glucocorticoids is a primary response, since the promoter of sgk contains a glucocorticoid response element consensus sequence 1.0 kb upstream of the start of transcription which is able to stimulate chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene activity in a dexamethasone-dependent manner. Antibodies that specifically recognize sgk-encoded protein on an immunoblot were generated. This protein was shown to increase in abundance with glucocorticoid treatment in a manner which paralleled the mRNA accumulation. This is the first report of a presumed serine/threonine protein kinase that is highly regulated at the transcriptional level by glucocorticoid hormones and suggests a novel interplay between glucocorticoid receptor signalling and a protein kinase of the second messenger family.