CheY is the response regulator in the signal transduction pathway of bacterial chemotaxis. Position 106 of CheY is occupied by a conserved aromatic residue (tyrosine or phenylalanine) in the response regulator superfamily. A number of substitutions at position 106 have been made and characterized by both behavioral and biochemical studies. On the basis of the behavioral studies, the phenotypes of the mutants at position 106 can be divided into three categories: (i) hyperactivity, with a tyrosine-to- tryptophan mutation (Y106W) causing increased tumble signaling but impairing chemotaxis; (ii) low-level activity, with a tyrosine-to-phenylalanine change (Y106F) resulting in decreased tumble signaling and chemotaxis; and (iii) no activity, with substitutions such as Y106L, Y106I, Y106V, Y106G, and Y106C resulting in no chemotaxis and a smooth-swimming phenotype. All three types of mutants can be phosphorylated by CheA-phosphate in vitro to a level similar to that of wild-type CheY. Autodephosphorylation rates are similar for all categories of mutants. All mutant proteins displayed less than twofold increased rates compared with wild-type CheY. Binding of the mutant proteins to FliM was similar to that of the wild-type CheY in the CheY-FliM binding assays. The combined results from in vivo behavioral and in vitro biochemical studies suggest that the diverse phenotypes of the Y106 mutants are not due to a variation in phosphorylation or dephosphorylation ability nor in affinity for the switch. With reference to the structures of wild- type CheY and the T87I CheY mutant, our results suggest that rearrangements of the orientation of the tyrosine side chain at position 106 are involved in the signal transduction of CheY. These data also suggest that the binding of phosphoryl-CheY to the flagellar motor is a necessary, but not sufficient, event for signal transduction.