All kinetic indicators suggest that the receptor-binding site of the relaxin-like factor (RLF) is located in the flexible C-terminal region of the B chain and is centered about the tryptophan in position B27. Conformational restraints of varying lengths were used to confine Trp (B27) to a narrow range of positions relative to the C terminus of the A chain. Total synthesis of variants involving residues proximate to Trp (B27) assured us that none had a role in receptor binding. Even arginine B26, next to the important tryptophan, can be replaced without deleterious effects. To fix the distance between the C-terminal end of the A chain and Trp (B27) at predetermined lengths, we synthesized RLF with covalent cross-links between a lysine, which was placed in position B26, and the alpha-carboxyl group at the C terminus of the A chain (A26). The affinity of the cross-linked ligands for the RLF receptor varied as a parabolic function of length whereby the range of 10.0-11.1 A provided the closest approach to the binding conformation. Wild-type transmembrane signaling activity, as determined by cAMP accumulation, was reached only with a glycine cross-linker.