Phosphorylation of the dopamine transporter (DAT) on N-terminal serines and unidentified threonines occurs concomitantly with protein kinase C (PKC)- and substrate-induced alterations in transporter activity, subcellular distribution, and dopamine efflux, but the residues phosphorylated and identities of protein kinases and phosphatases involved are not known. As one approach to investigating these issues, we recombinantly expressed the N-terminal tail of rat DAT (NDAT) and examined its phosphorylation and dephosphorylation properties in vitro. We found that NDAT could be phosphorylated to significant levels by PKCalpha, PKA, PKG, and CaMKII, which catalyzed serine phosphorylation, and ERK1, JNK, and p38, which catalyzed threonine phosphorylation. We identified Thr53, present in a membrane proximal proline-directed kinase motif as the NDAT site phosphorylated in vitro by ERK1, JNK and p38, and confirmed by peptide mapping and mutagenesis that Thr53 is phosphorylated in vivo. Dephosphorylation studies showed that protein phosphatase 1 catalyzed near-complete in vitro dephosphorylation of PKCalpha-phosphorylated NDAT, similar to its in vivo and in vitro effects on native DAT. These findings demonstrate the ability of multiple enzymes to directly recognize the DAT N-terminal domain and for kinases to act at multiple distinct sites. The strong correspondence between NDAT and rDAT phosphorylation characteristics suggests the potential for the enzymes that are active on NDAT in vitro to act on DAT in vivo and indicates the usefulness of NDAT for guiding future DAT phosphorylation analyses.