Understanding the precise structure and function of the intracellular domains of G protein-coupled receptors is essential for understanding how receptors are regulated, and how they transduce their signals from the extracellular milieu to intracellular sites. To understand better the structure and function of the intracellular domain of the 5-hydroxytryptamine2A (5-HT2A) receptor, a model G(alpha)q-coupled receptor, we overexpressed and purified to homogeneity the entire third intracellular loop (i3) of the 5-HT2A receptor, a region previously implicated in G-protein coupling. Circular dichroism spectroscopy of the purified i3 protein was consistent with alpha-helical and beta-loop, -turn, and -sheet structure. Using random peptide phage libraries, we identified several arrestin-like sequences as i3-interacting peptides. We subsequently found that all three known arrestins (beta-arrestin, arrestin-3, and visual arrestin) bound specifically to fusion proteins encoding the i3 loop of the 5-HT(2A) receptor. Competition binding studies with synthetic and recombinant peptides showed that the middle portion of the i3 loop, and not the extreme N and C termini, was likely to be involved in i3-arrestin interactions. Dual-label immunofluorescence confocal microscopic studies of rat cortex indicated that many cortical pyramidal neurons coexpressed arrestins (beta-arrestin or arrestin-3) and 5-HT2A receptors, particularly in intracellular vesicles. Our results demonstrate (a) that the i3 loop of the 5-HT2A receptor represents a structurally ordered domain composed of alpha-helical and beta-loop, -turn, and -sheet regions, (b) that this loop interacts with arrestins in vitro, and is hence active, and (c) that arrestins are colocalized with 5-HT2A receptors in vivo.