Many receptor mutants were generated and several NH2-terminally modified galanin analogs synthesized to define the regions of hGalR1 involved in galanin binding. Ligand binding properties and functionality of mutant receptors were evaluated. The His264Ala and Phe282Ala receptor mutants, although deficient in binding in the concentration range of galanin used, remained functional albeit at least 20-fold less efficient than the wild-type receptor in the inhibition of stimulated cAMP production. Hence, His264 and Phe282 of hGalR1 are directly involved in galanin binding. NH2-terminal carboxylic acid analogs of galanin (1-16) have a very low affinity for the wild-type receptor, but substantially increased affinity for the Glu271Lys-hGalR1, suggesting that the NH2-terminus of galanin binds to the receptor near the transmembrane (TM) VI. Based on these findings and computer-aided molecular modeling, we propose a binding site model for the hGalR1 receptor (possibly also for other galanin receptor subtypes): galanin binds with its NH2-terminus to the pocket between TM III and TM VI, Trp2 of galanin interacts with His264 of the receptor, and Tyr9 is involved in an aromatic-aromatic type of interaction with Phe282 of ECIII of GalR1.