Cytochrome P450c17 (CYP17) catalyzes both the 17alpha-hydroxylase and 17,20-lyase reactions in human steroid biosynthesis. Cytochrome b5 (b5) stimulates the rate of the 17,20-lyase reaction 10-fold with little influence on 17alpha-hydroxylase activity. Studies with apo-b5 suggest that stimulation of 17,20-lyase activity results from an allosteric action on the hCYP17 x POR complex, rather than electron transfer by b5. We hypothesized that specific residues on b5 interact with the hCYP17 x POR complex and that targeted mutation of surface-exposed residues might identify b5 residues critical for stimulating 17,20-lyase activity. We constructed, expressed, and purified 14 single plus 3 double b5 mutations and assayed their ability to stimulate 17,20-lyase activity. Most mutations did not alter the capacity of b5 to stimulate 17,20-lyase activity or appeared to modestly alter the affinity of b5 for the hCYP17 x POR complex. In contrast, mutation of E48, E49, or R52 reduced the maximal stimulation of 17,20-lyase activity. In particular, b5 mutation E48G + E49G lost over 95% of the capacity to stimulate 17,20-lyase activity, yet this mutation retained normal electron transfer properties. In addition, mutation E48G + E49G did not impair stimulation of 17,20-lyase activity by wild-type b5, suggesting that the mutation binds poorly to the site of the hCYP17 x POR complex occupied by b5. These data suggest that a specific allosteric binding site on b5, which includes residues E48, E49, and possibly R52, mediates the stimulation of 17,20-lyase activity.