Interleukin-8 (IL-8) has at least two binding regions for both the A and the B type IL-8 receptors. This study defines an important region between Cys7 and Cys50 that, together with the Glu4-Leu5-Arg6 sequence of the NH2 terminus, accounts for the high affinity binding of IL-8 to the IL-8 A receptor on leukocytes. Utilizing rabbit IL-8 that shares 82% sequence identity with human IL-8, but has 200-fold lower binding affinity for the IL-8 A receptor, residues of the human homologue were sequentially exchanged into the rabbit molecule. Replacement of rabbit His13 and Thr15 with Tyr13 and Lys15 of the human molecule converted the low affinity binding of the rabbit IL-8 to the high affinity binding of human IL-8 as shown by both competitive binding and by Ca2+ mobilization. As a corollary, replacement of the Tyr13 and Lys15 of the human IL-8 with His13 and Thr15 of the rabbit IL-8 reduced binding activity of this mutated human IL-8 200-fold. The site of interaction on the IL-8 receptor type A for the Tyr13 and Lys15 sequence was found to be in the NH2-terminal region of this receptor. A structural pattern of the binding between IL-8 and the A type IL-8 receptor is proposed.