Three polycation-stimulated (PCSH-, PCSM- and PCSL-) protein phosphatases are characterized by distinct specificities and regulatory properties. The properties of the catalytic subunits obtained from the 3 basic types of PCS phosphatases are apparently identical. The 35 kDa catalytic subunits are insensitive to inhibitor-1 and modulator protein and in contrast with the holoenzymes are less sensitive to stimulation by protamine, displaying a similar degree of stimulation and an identical concentration optimum; preincubation with polycations also results in a time-dependent deactivation. The phosphorylase phosphatase activity of the three catalytic subunits is stimulated to a similar extent by low but comparable concentrations of detergents, but not by metal ions. Upon limited proteolysis by trypsin the basal, but to a lesser extent the polycation-stimulated activity of the holoenzymes and the catalytic subunits is decreased.