We have previously shown that novel protein kinase C (nPKC) isozymes, such as nPKCepsilon, negatively regulate TNF-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells although the level on nPKCs did not correlate with cellular sensitivity to TNF. In the present study, we examined if the level/activation status of Akt/PKB influences antiapoptotic signaling by nPKCepsilon. While MCF-7 cells overexpressed PKB, BT-20 and SKBR-3 cells expressed constitutively phosphorylated PKB, and MDA-MB-231 cells expressed unphosphorylated PKB. Ly294002, an inhibitor of PI-3 kinase, induced cell death in SKBR-3 cells, which contained little nPKCs. Although Ly294002 by itself had only a modest effect on cell death in BT-20 and MCF-7 cells, it potentiated sensitivity of these cells to TNF. In contrast, Ly294002 either alone or in combination with TNF had little effect on cell death in MDA-MB-231 cells. These results suggest that the status of PKB in breast cancer cells influences antiapoptotic signaling by PKC.