Cytoplasmic Na+ and Ca2+ regulate the activity of Na+-Ca2+ exchange proteins, in addition to serving as the transported ions, and protein regions involved in these processes have been identified for the canine cardiac Na+-Ca2+ exchanger, NCX1.1. Although protein regions associated with Na+i- and Ca2+i-dependent regulation are highly conserved among cloned Na+-Ca2+ exchangers, it is unknown whether or not the structure-function relationships characteristic of NCX1.1 apply to any other exchangers. Therefore, we studied structure-function relationships in a Na+-Ca2+ exchanger from Drosophila, CALX1.1, which is unique among characterized members of this family of proteins in that microM levels of Ca2+i inhibit exchange current. Wild-type and mutant CALX1.1 exchangers were expressed in Xenopus oocytes and characterized electrophysiologically using the giant excised patch technique. Mutations within the putative regulatory Ca2+i binding site of CALX1. 1, like corresponding alterations in NCX1.1, led to reduced ability (i.e. D516V and D550I) or inability (i.e. G555P) of Ca2+i to inhibit Na+-Ca2+ exchange activity. Similarly, mutations within the putative XIP region of CALX1.1, as in NCX1.1, led to two distinct phenotypes: acceleration (i.e. K306Q) and elimination (i.e. Delta310-313) of Na+i-dependent inactivation. These results indicate that the respective regulatory roles of the Ca2+i binding site and XIP region are conserved between CALX1.1 and NCX1.1, despite opposite responses to Ca2+i. We extended these findings using chimeric constructs of CALX1.1 and NCX1.1 to determine whether or not functional interconversion of Ca2+i regulatory phenotypes was feasible. With one chimera (i.e. CALX:NCX:CALX), substitution of a 193-amino acid segment, from the large intracellular loop of NCX1.1, for the corresponding 177-amino acid segment of CALX1.1 led to an exchanger that was stimulated by Ca2+i. This result indicates that the regulatory Ca2+i binding site of NCX1.1 retains function in a CALX1. 1 parent transporter and that the substituted segment contains some of the amino acid sequence(s) required for transduction of the Ca2+i binding signal.