Rev-erbA/RVR are closely related orphan nuclear receptors (NRs) functioning as dominant transcriptional silencers through an association with the nuclear receptor corepressor N-CoR. In contrast with ligand-regulated NRs, Rev-erbA/RVR lack the ligand-binding domain (LBD) C-terminal activation helix, H12. In the case of retinoid acid receptor and thyroid hormone receptor, ligand binding is thought to reposition H12, causing corepressor dissociation and coactivator recruitment, thus leading to transcriptional activation. Here we present homology models of the Rev-erbA/RVR LBDs, which show that the putative ligand cavity is occupied by side chains, suggesting the absence of endogenous ligands. Modeling also revealed a very hydrophobic surface due to the absence of H12, exposing residues from H3, loop 3-4, H4, and H11. Mutation of specific residues from this surface severely impaired the in vitro and in vivo interaction of the Rev-erbA/RVR LBD with the receptor-interacting domain of the corepressors N-CoR or its splice variant RIP13delta1, reinforcing the view of the physical association of N-CoR with a LBD surface encompassing H3-H4 and H11. Furthermore, mutations in the LBD surface significantly reduced the ability of Rev-erbA and RVR to function as repressors of transcription. Interestingly, a hydrophobic surface comprised of H3-H4 and H12 in liganded NRs mediates the interaction with coactivators. Hence, it appears that corepressors and coactivators bind to overlapping surfaces of NR LBDs, the conformational change associated with H12 upon ligand binding resulting in a switch from a corepressor- to a coactivator-binding surface.