We have used electron paramagnetic resonance and fluorescence spectroscopy to study the interaction between the kinesin-1 head and its regulatory tail domain. The interaction between the tails and the enzymatically active heads has been shown to inhibit intrinsic and microtubule-stimulated ADP release. Here, we demonstrate that the probe mobility of two different spin-labeled nucleotide analogs in the kinesin-1 nucleotide pocket is restricted upon binding of the tail domain to kinesin-1 heads. This conformational restriction is distinct from the microtubule-induced changes in the nucleotide pocket. Unlike myosin V, this tail-induced restriction occurs independent of nucleotide state. We find that the head-tail interaction that causes the restriction only weakly stabilizes Mg(2+) in the nucleotide pocket. The conformational restriction also occurs when a tail construct containing a K922A point mutation is used. This mutation eliminates the tail's ability to inhibit ADP release, indicating that the tail does not inhibit nucleotide ejection from the pocket by simple steric hindrance. Together, our data suggest that the observed head-tail interaction serves as a scaffold to position K922 to exert its inhibitory effect, possibly by interacting with the nucleotide alpha/beta-phosphates in a manner analogous to the arginine finger regulators of some G proteins.