Java is receiving increasing attention as the most popular platform for distributed computing. However, programmers are still reluctant to embrace Java as a tool for writing scientific and engineering applications due to its still noticeable performance drawbacks compared with other programming languages such as Fortran or C. In this paper, we present a hybrid Java/Fortran implementation of a parallel particle-in-cell (PIC) algorithm for plasma simulations. In our approach, the time-consuming components of this application are designed and implemented as Fortran subroutines, while less calculation-intensive components usually involved in building the user interface are written in Java. The two types of software modules have been glued together using the Java native interface (JNI). Our mixed-language PIC code was tested and its performance compared with pure Java and Fortran versions of the same algorithm on a Sun E6500 SMP system and a Linux cluster of Pentium~III machines.