PI-PLC, a critical enzyme of the phosphoinositide (PI) signaling pathway, mediates many physiological functions in the brain, including cellular plasticity. Stress-induced learned helplessness (LH) in animals serves as a model of behavioral depression. Recently, we observed that repeated stress prolongs the duration of LH behavior in rats, enabling us to compare neurobiologie abnormalities in acute and chronic depression. Here we examine whether LH behavior is associated with alterations in phospholipase C (PLC), and whether repetition of inescapable shock has similar or dissimilar effects on PLC to those of the single-stress paradigm. Rats were exposed to inescapable shock either once on day 1, or twice, on days 1 and 7. Rats were tested for escape latency on days 2 and 4 after day 1 inescapable shock or on days 2, 8, and 14 after day 1 and 7 inescapable shock. PI-PLC activity and mRNA and protein expression of three different PLC isozymes were determined in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Higher escape latencies were observed in LH rats tested on day 2 after single inescapable shock and on day 14 after repeated inescapable shock. Single inescapable shock reduced PI-PLC activity in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of LH rats. On the other hand, repeated inescapable shock not only reduced PI-PLC activity in these brain areas of LH rats but also selectively decreased the expression of PLC β1 and PLC γ1 isozymes. Our results suggest different responsiveness at the level of PI-PLC after single vs repeated stress, and that reductions in PLC may be critical in the pathophysiology of depression and other stress-related disorders.