p94(fer) and p51(ferT) are two tyrosine kinases which share identical SH2 and kinase domains but differ in their N-terminal regions. While p94(fer) is expressed in most mammalian cells, the accumulation of p51(ferT) is restricted to meiotic spermatocytes. Here we show that the different N-terminal tails of p94(fer) and p51(ferT) direct different autophosphorylation states of these two kinases in vivo. N-terminal coiled-coil domains cooperated to drive the oligomerization and autophosphorylation in trans of p94(fer). Moreover, the ectopically expressed N-terminal tail of p94(fer) could act as a dominant negative mutant and associated with the endogenous p94(fer) protein in CHO cells. This increased significantly the percentage of cells residing in the G0/G1 phase, thus suggesting a role for p94(fer) in the regulation of G1 progression. Unlike p94(fer), overexpressed p51(ferT) was not autophosphorylated in COS1 cells. However, removal of the unique N-terminal 43 aa of p51(ferT) or the replacement of this region by a parallel segment from p94(fer) endowed the modified p51(ferT) with the ability to autophosphorylate. The unique N-terminal sequences of p51(ferT) thus interfere with its ability to autophosphorylate in vivo. These experiments indicate that the N-terminal sequences of the FER tyrosine kinases direct their different cellular autophosphorylation states, thereby dictating their different cellular functions.