Fc gamma RIIA in the absence of other Fc receptors or receptor subunits induces the ingestion of IgG-coated cells. The cytoplasmic domain of Fc gamma RIIA contains two Y-x-x-L sequences similar to those in other Ig gene family receptors plus an additional tyrosine residue not in a Y-x- x-L motif. Upon cross-linking, Fc gamma RIIA is phosphorylated on tyrosine and the cytoplasmic tyrosines, Y275 (Y1), Y282 (Y2), and Y298 (Y3), may be important for its phagocytic activity. Because COS-1 cells can serve as a model for examining molecular structures involved in phagocytosis, substitutions and deletions were introduced into the cytoplasmic domain of Fc gamma RIIA and examined in COS-1 cell transfectants for their effects on phagocytosis and tyrosine phosphorylation. Disruption of a single cytoplasmic Y-x-x-L motif by substitution of tyrosine Y2 or Y3 by phenylalanine or by removing the threonine and leucine residues within the motif inhibited phagocytosis 50% to 65%. Tyrosine phosphorylation of Fc gamma RIIA also was inhibited, although to a greater extent by the substitution of Y3 than of Y2. Replacement of the N-terminal first cytoplasmic domain tyrosine, Y1, which is not within a typical Y-x-x-L, by itself did not inhibit phagocytosis, but replacement of Y1 in mutants lacking Y2 or Y3 virtually eliminated phagocytic activity and receptor tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, at least two cytoplasmic tyrosines, including at least one typical single Y-x-x-L motif, are required for phagocytosis by Fc gamma RIIA. The data suggest that there is a close but not a simple relationship between phosphorylation of the Fc gamma RIIA cytoplasmic tyrosines and Fc gamma RIIA-mediated phagocytosis. Y3 appears to be particularly important because its removal by truncation or replacement with phenylalanine inhibits both tyrosine phosphorylation and phagocytosis in parallel. Alterations in the 12 residue proline-containing sequence between the two Y-x-x-L motifs also reduced phagocytic activity and tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, the specific structure of the Fc gamma RIIA cytoplasmic domain accounts for its ability to stimulate phagocytosis in the absence of other subunits.