Correolide is a novel immunosuppressant that inhibits the voltage-gated potassium channel K(v)1.3 [Felix et al. (1999) Biochemistry 38, 4922-4930]. [(3)H]Dihydrocorreolide (diTC) binds with high affinity to membranes expressing homotetrameric K(v)1.3 channels, and high affinity diTC binding can be conferred to the diTC-insensitive channel, K(v)3.2, after substitution of three nonconserved residues in S(5) and S(6) with the corresponding amino acids present in K(v)1.3 [Hanner et al. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 25237-25244]. Site-directed mutagenesis along S(5) and S(6) of K(v)1.3 was employed to identify those residues that contribute to high affinity binding of diTC. Binding of monoiodotyrosine-HgTX(1)A19Y/Y37F ([(125)I]HgTX(1)A19Y/Y37F) in the external vestibule of the channel was used to characterize each mutant for both tetrameric channel formation and levels of channel expression. Substitutions at Leu(346) and Leu(353) in S(5), and Ala(413), Val(417), Ala(421), Pro(423), and Val(424) in S(6), cause the most dramatic effect on diTC binding to K(v)1.3. Some of the critical residues in S(6) appear to be present in a region of the protein that alters its conformation during channel gating. Molecular modeling of the S(5)-S(6) region of K(v)1.3 using the X-ray coordinates of the KcsA channel, and other experimental constraints, yield a template that can be used to dock diTC in the channel. DiTC appears to bind in the water-filled cavity below the selectivity filter to a hydrophobic pocket contributed by the side chains of specific residues. High affinity binding is predicted to be determined by the complementary shape between the bowl-shape of the cavity and the shape of the ligand. The conformational change that occurs in this region of the protein during channel gating may explain the state-dependent interaction of diTC with K(v)1.3.