The complete amino acid sequence of the 61-kDa calmodulin-dependent, cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (CaM-PDE) from bovine brain has been determined. The native protein is a homodimer of N alpha-acetylated, 529-residue polypeptide chains, each of which has a calculated molecular weight of 60,755. The structural organization of this CaM-PDE has been investigated with use of limited proteolysis and synthetic peptide analogues. A site capable of interacting with CaM has been identified, and the position of the catalytic domain has been mapped. A fully active, CaM-independent fragment (Mr = 36,000), produced by limited tryptic cleavage in the absence of CaM, represents a functional catalytic domain. N-Terminal sequence and size indicate that this 36-kDa fragment is comprised of residues 136 to approximately 450 of the CaM-PDE. This catalytic domain encompasses a approximately 250 residue sequence that is conserved among PDE isozymes of diverse size, phylogeny, and function. CaM-PDE and its PDE homologues comprise a unique family of proteins, each having a catalytic domain that evolved from a common progenitor. A search of the sequence for potential CaM-binding sites revealed only one 15-residue segment with both a net positive charge and the ability to form an amphiphilic alpha-helix. Peptide analogues that include this amphiphilic segment were synthesized. Each was found to inhibit the CaM-dependent activation of the enzyme and to bind directly to CaM with high affinity in a calcium-dependent manner. This site is among the sequences cleaved from a 45-kDa chymotryptic fragment that has the complete catalytic domain but no longer binds CaM. These results indicate that residues located between position 23 and 41 of the native enzyme contribute significantly to the binding of CaM although the involvement of residues from additional sites is not excluded.