In normal fibroblasts, the product of the cellular src gene, p60c-src or Src, is repressed by phosphorylation at its C-terminal tyrosine residue, Tyr 527. Mutations in Src that prevent phosphorylation cause enzymatic activation and malignant transformation. The tyrosine kinases that phosphorylate Src at Tyr 527 in vivo have not been identified, but a tyrosine kinase known as CSK is an excellent candidate. CSK has the unusual ability to phosphorylate Src in vitro only at Tyr 527. To examine whether CSK has the appropriate sequence specificy to explain the phosphorylation of Src at Tyr 527 in fibroblasts, we have made use of a set of C-terminal substitution mutants of Src. These mutants were previously characterized for their levels of Tyr 527 phosphorylation when expressed in Rat2 fibroblasts. The ability of CSK to phosphorylate selected mutants has now been tested, using both in vitro phosphorylation assays and co-expression of CSK with the Src mutants in a heterologous organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We also tested whether the mutant Src molecules could autophosphorylate at Try 527, by examining the phosphorylation state of catalytically active forms expressed in the absence of CSK in yeast cells. The results show that CSK has strict sequence specificity for the normal Src sequence, although it can also phosphorylate the Lck sequence. The other mutant Src molecules tested were not phophorylated by CSK, even though some of these mutants are highly phosphorylated at Tyr 527 in Rat 2 cells. All the mutants that are phosphorylated at Tyr 527 in Rat2 cells are also able to autophosphorylate at Tyr 527. The results suggest that CSK, autophosphorylation, and phosphorylation by kinases other than CSK, may all contribution to repressing Src catalytic activity in fibroblasts.