The three isoforms of human Ins(1,4,5)P3 3-kinase (IP3K) show remarkable differences in their intracellular targeting. Whereas predominant targeting to the cytoskeleton and endoplasmic reticulum has been shown for IP3K-A and IP3K-B, rat IP3K-C shuttles actively between the nucleus and cytoplasm. In the present study we examined the expression and intracellular localisation of endogenous IP3K-C in different mammalian cell lines using an isoform-specific antibody. In addition, human IP3K-C, showing remarkable differences to its rat homologue in the N-terminal targeting domain, was tagged with EGFP and used to examine active transport mechanisms into and out of the nucleus. We found both a nuclear import activity residing in its N-terminal domain and a nuclear export activity sensitive to treatment with leptomycin B. Different from the rat isoform, an exportin 1-dependent nuclear export site of the human enzyme resides outside the N-terminal targeting domain in the catalytic enzyme domain. A phylogenetic survey of vertebrate IP3K sequences indicates that in each of the three isoforms a nuclear export signal has evolved in the catalytic domain either de novo (IP3K-A) or as a substitute for an earlier evolved corresponding N-terminal signal (IP3K-B and IP3K-C). In higher vertebrates, and in particular in primates, re-export of nuclear IP3K activity may be guaranteed by the mechanism discovered.