Agonist-bound receptors activate heterotrimeric (alpha beta gamma) G proteins by catalysing replacement of GDP bound to the alpha-subunit by GTP. mutations in the C terminus of the alpha-subunit, its covalent modification by pertussis toxin-catalysed ribosylation of ADP, peptide-specific antibodies directed against it, and peptides mimicking C-terminal sequences, all inhibit receptor-mediated activation of G proteins. The logical prediction--that specific amino-acid residues at the C-termini of alpha-subunits can determine the abilities of individual G proteins to discriminate among specific subsets of receptors--has so far not been tested experimentally. Different hormone receptors specifically activate Gq or Gi, whose alpha-subunits (alpha q or alpha i) stimulate phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C or inhibit adenylyl cyclase, respectively. Here we replace C-terminal amino acids of alpha q with the corresponding residues of alpha i2 to create alpha q/alpha i2 chimaeras that can mediate stimulation of phospholipase C by receptors otherwise coupled exclusively to Gi. A minimum of three alpha i2 amino acids, including a glycine three residues from the C terminus, suffices to switch the receptor specificity of the alpha q/alpha i2 chimaeras. We propose that a C-terminal turn, centered on this glycine, plays an important part in specifying receptor interactions of G proteins in the Gi/Go/Gz family.