We identified the sites on vimentin that are phosphorylated by Ca2(+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM-kinase II). Sequential analysis of the purified phosphopeptides demonstrated that the sites are -Thr-Arg-Thr-Tyr-Ser(PO4)38-Leu-Gly-Ser-Ala- and -Val-Arg-Leu-Leu-Gln-Asp-Ser(PO4)82-Val-Asp-, which are located within the amino-terminal head domain of vimentin. For Ser-82 but not Ser-38, the proposed CaM-kinase II recognition amino acid sequence (Arg-X-X-Ser/Thr) was not found. Studies with a series of synthetic peptide analogs corresponding to Ser-82 and its surrounding amino acid sequence indicate that Asp-84 acts as an essential substrate specificity determinant for the Ser-82 phosphorylation by CaM-kinase II. The CaM-kinase II recognition site may be more extensive than heretofore determined.