NGFI-B is an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily encoded by an immediate-early gene. It is rapidly synthesized and phosphorylated in PC12 cells in response to nerve growth factor (NGF) and other agents and is differentially phosphorylated dependent upon the inducing stimulus. The DNA-binding domain (DBD) of NGFI-B has been expressed in bacteria and purified. The purified protein is phosphorylated by protein kinase A or by extracts from NGF-treated PC12 cells. The phosphorylated residues within the DBD have been identified as Ser-340 and Ser-350. The use of mutants in which either or both of these residues were replaced with alanines revealed that phosphorylation of Ser-350, located within the "A box," a motif necessary for DNA binding by NGFI-B, resulted in a decrease in binding to the NGFI-B response element, while phosphorylation of Ser-340 had little or no effect. These findings demonstrate that phosphorylation of a nuclear receptor DBD results in a change in DNA binding and provides another potential mechanism for regulating NGFI-B activity.