Myristate is a fatty acid (fourteen-carbon chain with no double bonds, C14:0) linked to the amino-terminal glycine of several proteins, including alpha-subunits of heterotrimeric (alpha/beta gamma) G proteins. We report here a novel modification at the N terminus of the alpha-subunit of the photoreceptor G protein transducin, T alpha, with heterogeneous fatty acids composed of laurate (C12:0), unsaturated C14:2 and C14:1 fatty acids, and a small amount (approximately 5%) of myristate. Both the GTPase activity of T alpha/T beta gamma and the T beta gamma-dependent ADP-ribosylation of T alpha catalysed by pertussis toxin were inhibited by the lauroylated and myristoylated N-terminal peptide of T alpha. The myristoylated peptide gave 50% inhibition at a 3.5 to approximately 4.5-fold lower concentration than the lauroylated peptide in each assay, indicating that the strength of the interaction between T alpha and T beta gamma is altered by heterogeneous fatty acids linked to T alpha. This suggests that a looser subunit interaction in transducin which is due to an abundance of N-linked fatty acids other than myristate would favour the rapid turnover and catalysis essential for the visual excitation in photoreceptor cells.