Phosphotyrosine-containing proteins are minor components of normal cells which appear to be associated primarily with the regulation of cellular metabolism and growth. The insulin receptor is a tyrosine-specific protein kinase, and one of the earliest detectable responses to insulin binding is activation of this kinase and autophosphorylation of its beta-subunit. Tyrosine autophosphorylation activates the phosphotransferase in the beta-subunit and increases its reactivity toward tyrosine phosphorylation of other substrates. When incubated in vitro with [gamma-32P]ATP and insulin, the purified insulin receptor phosphorylates various proteins on their tyrosine residues. However, so far no proteins other than the insulin receptor have been identified as undergoing tyrosine phosphorylation in response to insulin in an intact cell. Here, using anti-phosphotyrosine antibodies, we have identified a novel phosphotyrosine-containing protein of relative molecular mass (Mr) 185,000 (pp185) which appears during the initial response of hepatoma cells to insulin binding. In contrast to the insulin receptor, pp185 does not adhere to wheat-germ agglutininagarose or bind to anti-insulin receptor antibodies. Phosphorylation of pp185 is maximal within seconds after exposure of the cells to insulin and exhibits a dose-response curve similar to that of receptor autophosphorylation, suggesting that this protein represents the endogenous substrate for the insulin receptor kinase.