A phospholipid column was prepared by coating siliconized porous glass beads with phospholipids. The analysis of the Ca2+ requirement of lipocortin I and its derivatives in the binding to phospholipids was carried out with this column. The Ca2+ concentration required for 50% binding to the phospholipid column at room temperature was about 30 microM for lipocortin I, while that was reduced to 15 microM when lipocortin I was phosphorylated by the epidermal growth factor receptor/kinase, and a further reduction in the Ca2+ requirement was observed with proteolytic cleavage at the N-terminal region. Cathepsin D and calpain I (low calcium-requiring form of calcium-activated neutral protease) rapidly cleaved human placental lipocortin I at Trp-12 and Lys-26, respectively. These N-terminal-truncated proteins required only 5 microM Ca2+ for 50% binding to the phospholipid column. This enhancement of Ca2+ sensitivity by limited proteolysis was also observed for porcine lung lipocortin I. Essentially the same results were obtained when the Ca2+ sensitivities of the modified lipocortins I were analyzed using dispersed phospholipid vesicles instead of the phospholipid affinity column. Equilibrium dialysis indicated that the release of the N-terminal region markedly increased the affinity of lipocortin I for Ca2+ in the presence of phosphatidylserine, without any appreciable change of the number of Ca2+-binding sites. Limited proteolysis by endogenous proteases such as calpain may be an important regulatory mechanism for the Ca2+ sensitivity of lipocortin I in phospholipid binding.