The melanocortin-2 receptor (MC2R), also known as the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) receptor, plays an important role in regulating and maintaining adrenocortical function, specifically steroidogenesis. Mutations of the human MC2R (hMC2R) gene have also been identified in humans with familial glucocorticoid deficiency; however, the molecular basis responsible for hMC2R ligand binding and signaling remains unclear. In this study, both truncated ACTH peptides and site-directed mutagenesis studies were used to determine molecular mechanisms of hMC2R binding ACTH and signaling. Our results indicate that ACTH1-16 is the minimal peptide required for hMC2R binding and signaling. Mutations of common melanocortin receptor family amino acid residues E80 in transmembrane domain 2 (TM2), D107 in TM3, F178 in TM4, F235 and H238 in TM6, and F258 in TM7 significantly reduced ACTH-binding affinity and signaling. Furthermore, mutations of unique amino acids D104 and F108 in TM3 and F168 and F178 in TM4 significantly decreased ACTH binding and signaling. In conclusion, our results suggest that the residues in TM2, TM3, and TM6 of hMC2R share similar binding sites with other MCRs but the residues identified in TM4 and TM7 of hMC2R are unique and required for ACTH selectivity. Our study suggests that hMC2R may have a broad binding pocket in which both conserved and unique amino acid residues are required, which may be the reason why α-MSH was not able to bind hMC2R. © 2007 American Chemical Society.