The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is shared by primary and laboratory-adapted strains of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) for viral entry. Our previous studies implicated a contiguous nine-amino-acid region of the V3 loop of the FIV envelope surface as important in CXCR4 binding and virus entry. The binding is specific for CXCR4 since it can be inhibited by AMD3100, a selective CXCR4 inhibitor. Additional site-directed mutagenesis was used to further reveal the key residues. Binding studies indicated that basic residues R395, K397, R399 as well as N398 are critical for CXCR4 binding. The effect of other amino acid residues on receptor binding depends on the type of amino acid residue substituted. The binding study results were confirmed on human CXCR4-expressing SupT1 cells and correlated with entry efficiency using a virus entry assay. Amino acid residues critical for CXCR4 are not critical for interactions with the primary binding receptor CD134, which has an equivalent role as CD4 for HIV-1 binding. The ELISA results show that W394 and W400 are crucial for the recognition by neutralizing anti-V3 antibodies. Since certain strains of HIV-1 also use CXCR4 as the entry receptor, the findings make the feline model attractive for development of broad-based entry antagonists and for study of the molecular mechanism of receptor/virus interactions.