The majority of mutations which lead to clinical cystic fibrosis are located within the two predicted nucleotide binding domains of the cystic fibrosis gene product. We have used a prokaryotic expression system to synthesize and purify the first nucleotide binding domain (NBD-1, amino acids 426-588) with and without the most common mutation associated with the disease (the deletion of phenylalanine at position 508, ΔF508). Both wild type and ΔF508 NBD-1 bind ATP-agarose in a quantitatively comparable manner; this binding was inhibited by excess Na2ATP, trinitrophenol-ATP, or 8-azido- ATP. Irreversible NBD-1 labeling by an ATP analog was demonstrated using [32P]8-azido-ATP. This covalent labeling was inhibited by preincubation with Na2ATP, with half-maximal inhibition for Na2ATP occurring at approximately 5 mM for both the wild type and ΔF508 nucleotide binding domain. These experiments are among the first to confirm the expectation that the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator NBD-1 binds nucleotide. Since, under the conditions used in our study, NBD-1 without phenylalanine 508 displays very similar nucleotide binding characteristics to the wild type protein, our results support previous structural models which predict that the ΔF508 mutation should not cause an alteration in ATP binding.