The luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor is a member of the seven-transmembrane receptor family. It is coupled, presumably via G(s) and G(q), to two signal pathways involving adenylyl cyclase/cAMP and phospholipase C/inositol phosphate (IP). Little is known about the events prior to G-protein coupling: for example, whether these signals are generated from a single or multiple independent origins and mechanisms, when and where they diverge, and how they are transduced. We report novel observations that the cAMP signal and the IP signal originate and diverge upstream of G-protein coupling. The generation of these two signals independently involves Lys583 in exoloop 3 of the rat receptor. For this study, Lys583 of the receptor was substituted with a panel of amino acids, and mutant receptors were assayed for hormone binding and induction of cAMP, inositol monophosphate, inositol bisphosphate, and inositol trisphosphate. No substitutions for Lys583 were permissible for cAMP induction, despite successful surface expression and hormone binding. In contrast, several substitutions were permissible for IP induction. Our results suggest two distinct transmembrane signal conductors for cAMP and inositol phosphate signals and imply particular models of receptor activation not previously suggested.