By functional analysis of mutant human transferrin receptors (TR) expressed in chicken embryo fibroblasts, we previously identified a tetrapeptide sequence, Y20TRF23, within the 61-residue cytoplasmic tail as the signal for high-efficiency endocytosis (Collawn, J. F., Stangel, M., Kuhn, L. A., Esekogwu, V., Jing, S., Trowbridge, I. S., and Tainer, J. A. (1990) Cell 63, 1061-1072). It has been inferred from other studies, however, that the TR internalization signal was localized to a much larger region, residues 7 through 26 (Girones, N., Alvarez, E., Seth, A., Lin, I-M., Latour, D. A., and Davis, R. J. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 19006-19012). Additionally, Tyr20was reported to not be conserved in the Chinese hamster cytoplasmic tail sequence (Alvarez, E., Girones, N., and Davis, R. J. (1990) Biochem. J. 267, 31-35). In the studies reported here, we examined the effect of insertion of an extra copy of a YTRF sequence at three different locations within the human TR cytoplasmic domain and show that the insertion of another YTRF signal at position 31-34 in the wild-type TR, but not the other two locations, increases the rate of endocytosis 2-fold. Furthermore, introduction of YTRF at position 31-34 in an internalization-defective mutant receptor restores endocytosis to wild-type levels, indicating that YTRF signals at either positions 20-23 or 31-34 are necessary and sufficient to promote TR internalization and function in an independent and additive manner. We also report the complete primary structure of the Chinese hamster TR deduced from its cDNA sequence and show that the Tyr20as well as the complete YTRF motif is conserved.