Retinal degeneration-3 (RD3) protein protects photoreceptors from degeneration by preventing retinal guanylyl cyclase (RetGC) activation via calcium-sensing guanylyl cyclase–activating proteins (GCAP), and RD3 truncation causes severe congenital blindness in humans and other animals. The three-dimensional structure of RD3 has recently been established, but the molecular mechanisms of its inhibitory binding to RetGC remain unclear. Here, we report the results of probing 133 surface-exposed residues in RD3 by single substitutions and deletions to identify side chains that are critical for the inhibitory binding of RD3 to RetGC. We tested the effects of these substitutions and deletions in vitro by reconstituting purified RD3 variants with GCAP1-activated human RetGC1. Although the vast majority of the surface-exposed residues tolerated substitutions without loss of RD3's inhibitory activity, substitutions in two distinct narrow clusters located on the opposite sides of the molecule effectively suppressed RD3 binding to the cyclase. The first surface-exposed cluster included residues adjacent to Leu63 in the loop connecting helices 1 and 2. The second cluster surrounded Arg101 on a surface of helix 3. Single substitutions in those two clusters drastically, i.e. up to 245-fold, reduced the IC50 for the cyclase inhibition. Inactivation of the two binding sites completely disabled binding of RD3 to RetGC1 in living HEK293 cells. In contrast, deletion of 49 C-terminal residues did not affect the apparent affinity of RD3 for RetGC. Our findings identify the functional interface on RD3 required for its inhibitory binding to RetGC, a process essential for protecting photoreceptors from degeneration.