Receptors for the Fc domain of IgG on cells of hematopoietic lineage perform important functions, including stimulation of the ingestion of IgG-coated cells. In examining the function of Fc gamma receptor isoforms by transfection into COS-1 cells, we have observed that Fc gamma RIIA induces the binding and phagocytosis of IgG-sensitized RBCs (EA) and that transfected COS-1 cells can serve as a model for examining the molecular structures involved in mediating a phagocytic signal. We now report that COS-1 cell transfectants expressing the isoforms Fc gamma RIIB1 and Fc gamma RIIB2 and a Fc gamma RIIA mutant without a cytoplasmic tail efficiently bind EA but do not mediate their phagocytosis. Furthermore, wild-type Fc gamma RIIA, but not Fc gamma RIIB1 or Fc gamma RBII2, was phosphorylated on tyrosine upon receptor activation. Tyrphostin 23, which alters tyrosine kinase activity, inhibited the phagocytosis of EA and reduced the phosphorylation of Fc gamma RIIA on tyrosine. Fc gamma RIIB1 and Fc gamma RIIB2 contain one copy of the cytoplasmic sequence YXXL/I implicated in signal transduction, whereas Fc gamma RIIA contains two copies. We therefore inserted YXXL/I sequences at different sites in Fc gamma RIIB2. Low levels of phagocytosis were observed in a Fc gamma RIIB2 mutant bearing the Fc gamma RIIA sequence YMTL and higher levels of phagocytosis were observed in a second Fc gamma RIIB2 mutant that contained both the upstream YMTL and an additional downstream tyrosine-containing motif. Activation of this mutant receptor also induced receptor tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, these studies indicate that both the number and placement of YXXL sequences in the cytoplasmic domain of the Fc gamma RII receptor family affect both receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and phagocytic competence.