The thyrotropin (TSH) receptor is a member of G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane-segment receptors. It is characterized by a large extracellular domain linked to the seven transmembrane segments and ending with a cytoplasmic tail. Sequence alignment shows that a highly conserved motif, NPXXY where X is any amino acid, exists at the boundary between the seventh transmembrane domain and proximal part of the cytoplasmic tail of virtually all G protein-coupled receptors. This motif has been implicated as an internalization signal for several cell surface receptors, such as the low density lipoprotein (LDL), insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) receptors. The potential effects of this motif on the TSH receptor signal transduction and receptor-mediated TSH internalization was analysed by replacement of the tyrosine(678) residue with an alanine residue. This mutation does not impair high affinity TSH binding, but completely abolishes the ability of cAMP response upon TSH stimulation. It also significantly reduces TSH internalization. The role of the cytoplasmic tail of the TSH receptor in receptor-mediated internalization was also assessed. Deletion of up to 56 amino acids from the C-terminus of the cytoplasmic tail enhances TSH internalization as compared to the wild-type receptor. We conclude that tyrosine(678) in the NPXXY motif is required for efficient receptor-mediated TSH internalization and G protein coupling. The cytoplasmic tail of the TSH receptor may contain sequence domains which could modulate the effects of the NPXXY internalization signal.