Previous work from our laboratory has demonstrated that the Ca(2+)-calmodulin complex inhibits the intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and that the receptor can be isolated by Ca(2+)-dependent calmodulin-affinity chromatography [San José, Bengurija, Geller and Villalobo (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 15237-15245]. Moreover, we have demonstrated that the cytosolic juxtamembrane region of the human receptor (residues 645-660) binds calmodulin in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner when this segment forms part of a recombinant fusion protein [Martijn-Nieto and Villalobo (1998) Biochemistry 37, 227-236]. However, demonstration of the direct interaction between calmodulin and the whole receptor has remained elusive. In this work, we show that calmodulin, in the presence of Ca(2+), forms part of a high-molecular-mass complex built upon covalent cross-linkage of the human EGFR immunoprecipitated from two cell lines overexpressing this receptor. Although several calmodulin-binding proteins co-immunoprecipitated with the EGFR, suggesting that they interact with the receptor, we demonstrated using overlay techniques that biotinylated calmodulin binds directly to the receptor in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner without the mediation of any adaptor calmodulin-binding protein. Calmodulin binds to the EGFR with an apparent dissociation constant (K'(d)) of approx. 0.2-0.3 microM. Treatment of cells with epidermal growth factor, or with inhibitors of protein kinase C and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, or treatment of the immunoprecipitated receptor with alkaline phosphatase, does not significantly affect the binding of biotinylated calmodulin to the receptor.