The Cry1Ab toxin produced by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) exerts insecticidal action upon binding to BT-R1, a cadherin receptor localized in the midgut epithelium of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta [Dorsch, J. A., Candas, M., Griko, N. B., Maaty, W. S., Midboe, E. G., Vadlamudi, R. K., and Bulla, L. A., Jr. (2002) Cry1A toxins of Bacillus thuringiensis bind specifically to a region adjacent to the membrane-proximal extracellular domain of BT-R1 in Manduca sexta: involvement of a cadherin in the entomopathogenicity of Bacillus thuringiensis, Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 32, 1025-1036]. BT-R1 represents a family of invertebrate cadherins whose ectodomains (ECs) are composed of multiple cadherin repeats (EC1 through EC12). In the present work, we determined the Cry1Ab toxin binding site in BT-R1 in the context of cadherin structural determinants. Our studies revealed a conserved structural motif for toxin binding that includes two distinct regions within the N- and C-termini of EC12. These regions are characterized by unique sequence signatures that mark the toxin-binding function in BT-R1 as well as in homologous lepidopteran cadherins. Structure modeling of EC12 discloses the conserved motif as a single broad interface that holds the N- and C-termini in close proximity. Binding of toxin to BT-R1, which is univalent, and the subsequent downstream molecular events responsible for cell death depend on the conserved motif in EC12.