To determine the basis for the previously demonstrated calcium requirement for specific binding of FSH to receptor, 11 overlapping peptide amides representing the entire primary structure of human FSH (hFSH)-beta-subunit were tested for their ability to bind 45Ca2+ as an approach to identifying possible calcium binding regions of the hormone. hFSH-beta-(1-15)-peptide amide bound significant amounts of 45Ca2+. This peptide contains an amino acid sequence similar to that found in the loop structures of the calcium-binding domains of calmodulin. The affinity of hFSH-beta-(1-15)-peptide amide for calcium (Kd = 1.2 +/- 0.3 mM) was similar to that previously reported for a synthetic peptide corresponding to calmodulin binding site III. No such sequence is predicted in the recently deduced primary structure of the FSH receptor. FSH-beta-(1-15) may, therefore, be associated with the calcium requirement for specific binding of FSH to receptor. The calcium binding property of this calmodulin-like peptide also correlates well with its ability to induce uptake of calcium into liposomes via transmembrane channel formation, as previously reported by this laboratory.