To test whether the tyrosine kinase activity of the insulin receptor is crucial for insulin action, we have constructed mutations of the human insulin receptor at Lys-1030, which is in the presumed ATP-binding region. By using oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis, this lysine residue was replaced with either methionine, arginine, or alanine. Chinese hamster ovary cells were transfected by mutant cDNAs and the expressed insulin receptors were characterized. We show here that none of these mutants exhibited insulin-activated autophosphorylation and kinase activity in vitro. They also do not mediate insulin- and antibody-stimulated uptake of 2-deoxyglucose. The tyrosine kinase activity is thus required for a key physiological response of insulin.