Calmodulin activates the skeletal muscle Ca(2+) release channel RYR1 at nm Ca(2+) concentrations and inhibits the channel at microm Ca(2+) concentrations. Using a deletion mutant of calmodulin, we demonstrate that amino acids 2-8 are required for high affinity binding of calmodulin to RYR1 at both nm and microm Ca(2+) concentrations and are required for maximum inhibition of the channel at microm Ca(2+) concentrations. In contrast, the addition of three amino acids to the N terminus of calmodulin increased the affinity for RYR1 at both nm and microm Ca(2+) concentrations, but destroyed its functional effects on RYR1 at nm Ca(2+). Using both full-length RYR1 and synthetic peptides, we demonstrate that the calmodulin-binding site on RYR1 is likely to be noncontiguous, with the C-terminal lobe of both apocalmodulin and Ca(2+)-calmodulin binding to amino acids between positions 3614 and 3643 and the N-terminal lobe binding at sites that are not proximal in the primary sequence. Ca(2+) binding to the C-terminal lobe of calmodulin converted it from an activator to an inhibitor, but an interaction with the N-terminal lobe was required for a maximum effect on RYR1. This interaction apparently depends on the native sequence or structure of the first few amino acids at the N terminus of calmodulin.