The role of the N-terminal region in nuclear receptor function was addressed by a biochemical and biophysical analysis of the progesterone receptor A-isoform lacking only the hormone binding domain (NT-A). Sedimentation studies demonstrate that NT-A is quantitatively monomeric, with a highly asymmetric shape. Contrary to dogma, the N-terminal region is structured as demonstrated by limited proteolysis. However, N-terminal structure is strongly stabilized by the DNA binding domain, possibly explaining the lack of structure seen in isolated activation domains. Upon DNA binding, NT-A undergoes N-terminal mediated assembly, suggestive of DNA-induced allostery, and consistent with changes in protease accessibility of sites outside the DNA binding domain. Microsequencing reveals that protease-accessible regions are limited to previously identified phosphorylation motifs and to functional domain boundaries.