Neuronal NMDA receptors (NMDARs) colocalize with postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), a putative NMDAR anchoring protein and core component of the PSD, at excitatory synapses. PKC activation and PSD-95 expression each enhance NMDAR channel opening rate and number of functional channels at the cell surface. Here we show in Xenopus oocytes that PSD-95 and PKC potentiate NMDA gating and trafficking in a nonadditive manner. PSD-95 and PKC each enhance NMDA channel activity, with no change in single-channel conductance, reversal potential or mean open time. PSD-95 and PKC each potentiate NMDA channel opening rate (k(beta)) and number of functional channels at the cell surface (N), as indicated by more rapid current decay and enhanced charge transfer in the presence of the open channel blocker MK-801. PSD-95 and PKC each increase NMDAR surface expression, as indicated by immunofluorescence. PKC potentiates NMDA channel function and NMDAR surface expression to the same final absolute values in the absence or presence of PSD-95. Thus, PSD-95 partially occludes PKC potentiation. We further show that Ser-1462, a putative phosphorylation target within the PDZ-binding motif of the NR2A subunit, is required for PSD-95-induced potentiation and partial occlusion of PKC potentiation. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments with cortical neurons in culture indicate that PKC activation promotes assembly of NR2 with NR1, and that the newly assembled NMDARs are not associated with PSD-95. These findings predict that synaptic scaffolding proteins and protein kinases convergently modulate NMDAR gating and trafficking at synaptic sites.