We have studied insulin and antireceptor antibody binding to mutated human insulin receptors deleted of residues 485-599 in the alpha-subunit by site-directed mutagenesis. Both normal and mutated receptors were expressed in rat HTC hepatoma cells. Cells expressing either the normal receptor or the mutated receptor retained the ability to bind insulin. In contrast to the normal receptor, however, the mutated receptor failed to interact with antireceptor alpha-subunit antibodies. The inability of the mutated receptor to interact with various antireceptor antibodies was further documented by photoaffinity labeling studies. In intact HTC cells expressing mutated receptors, basal insulin receptor tyrosine autophosphorylation was 2-fold elevated when compared to cells expressing normal receptors. In these cells, however, the response of this function to insulin was blunted. When receptors were isolated from these cells and assayed for both autophosphorylation and phosphotransferase activities toward the synthetic substrate poly(Glu, Tyr), the response to insulin was also blunted. To study the ability of the mutated receptor to transmembrane signal, insulin stimulation of S6 kinase activity was measured. In cells with mutated receptors, in concert with the insulin receptor kinase data, basal S6 kinase activity was elevated, and the response to insulin was blunted. The data suggest, therefore, that residues 485-599 in the alpha-subunit of the insulin receptor are critical for antireceptor antibody binding, but not for insulin binding. Moreover, these data suggest that residues 485-599 contain a regulatory domain for insulin regulation of receptor beta-subunit functions.