We have investigated the role of tyrosine residues in the insulin receptor cytoplasmic juxtamembrane region (Tyr953 and Tyr960) during endocytosis. Analysis of the secondary structure of the juxtamembrane region by the Chou-Fasman algorithms predicts that both the sequences GPLY953 and NPEY960 form tyrosine-containing beta-turns. Similarly, analysis of model peptides by 1-D and 2-D NMR show that these sequences form beta-turns in solution, whereas replacement of the tyrosine residues with alanine destabilizes the beta-turn. CHO cell lines were prepared expressing mutant receptors in which each tyrosine was mutated to phenylalanine or alanine, and an additional mutant contained alanine at both positions. These mutations had no effect on insulin binding or receptor autophosphorylation. Replacements with phenylalanine had no effect on the rate of [125I]insulin endocytosis, whereas single substitutions with alanine reduced [125I]insulin endocytosis by 40-50%. Replacement of both tyrosines with alanine reduced internalization by 70%. These data suggest that the insulin receptor contains two tyrosine/beta-turns which contribute independently and additively to insulin-stimulated endocytosis.