A novel family of inhibitory co-receptors has been recently defined according to the presence in their intracytoplasmic domain of immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motifs (ITIM). In particular, this family includes a low-affinity receptor for IgG, Fc gammaRIIB, which is widely expressed on hematopoietic cells, as well as killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIR) for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I proteins, expressed on both T and natural killer (NK) lymphocytes. Fc gammaRIIB and KIR inhibitory function depends upon the tyrosine phosphorylation of their respective ITIM. Phosphorylated Fc gammaRIIB and KIR ITIM bind the tandem SH2 tyrosine phosphatases, SHP-1 and SHP-2. Recently, Fc gammaRIIB has been shown to associate with a polyphosphate inositol 5-phosphatase, SHIP, which appears to be involved in its inhibitory function. Using cell lysate adsorption to phosphorylated ITIM peptides and surface plasmon resonance, we demonstrate here that, in contrast to Fc gammaRIIB, KIR (CD158b: p58.2) do not bind to SHIP, and only recruit SHP-1 and SHP-2. In addition, we show that point mutation of the amino acid residue in position tyrosine-2 of Fc gammaRIIB and KIR ITIM abolihes their binding to SHP-1 and SHP-2, but leaves intact the association of SHIP with Fc gammaRIIB ITIM. These data contribute to the structural definition of ITIM and document a differential recruitment of phosphatases by distinct ITIM. These findings also reveal that diverse strategies of inhibition are used by distinct members of the ITIM-bearing co-receptor family.