The molecular basis for recognition by human P2Y1 receptors of the novel, competitive antagonist 2'-deoxy-N6-methyladenosine 3', 5'-bisphosphate (MRS 2179) was probed using site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling. The potency of this antagonist was measured in mutant receptors in which key residues in the transmembrane helical domains (TMs) 3, 5, 6, and 7 were replaced by Ala or other amino acids. The capacity of MRS 2179 to block stimulation of phospholipase C promoted by 2-methylthioadenosine 5'-diphosphate (2-MeSADP) was lost in P2Y1 receptors having F226A, K280A, or Q307A mutations, indicating that these residues are critical for the binding of the antagonist molecule. Mutation of the residues His132, Thr222, and Tyr136 had an intermediate effect on the capacity of MRS 2179 to block the P2Y1 receptor. These positions therefore appear to have a modulatory role in recognition of this antagonist. F131A, H277A, T221A, R310K, or S317A mutant receptors exhibited an apparent affinity for MRS 2179 that was similar to that observed with the wild-type receptor. Thus, Phe131, Thr221, His277, and Ser317 are not essential for antagonist recognition. A computer-generated model of the human P2Y1 receptor was built and analyzed to help interpret these results. The model was derived through primary sequence comparison, secondary structure prediction, and three-dimensional homology building, using rhodopsin as a template, and was consistent with data obtained from mutagenesis studies. We have introduced a "cross-docking" procedure to obtain energetically refined 3D structures of the ligand-receptor complexes. Cross-docking simulates the reorganization of the native receptor structure induced by a ligand. A putative nucleotide binding site was localized and used to predict which residues are likely to be in proximity to agonists and antagonists. According to our model TM6 and TM7 are close to the adenine ring, TM3 and TM6 are close to the ribose moiety, and TM3, TM6, and TM7 are near the triphosphate chain.