Like the CCR5 chemokine receptors of humans and rhesus macaques, the very homologous (~98-99% identical) CCR5 of African green monkeys (AGMs) avidly binds β-chemokines and functions as a coreceptor for simian immunodeficiency viruses. However, AGM CCR5 is a weak coreceptor for tested macrophage-tropic (R5) isolates of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV- 1). Correspondingly, gp120 envelope glycoproteins derived from R5 isolates of HIV-1 bind poorly to AGM CCR5. We focused on a unique extracellular amino acid substitution at the juncture of transmembrane helix 4 (TM4) and extracellular loop 2 (ECL2) (Arg for Gly at amino acid 163 (G163R)) as the likely source of the weak R5 gp120 binding and HIV-1 coreceptor properties of AGM CCRS. Accordingly, a G163R mutant of human CCR5 was severely attenuated in its ability to bind R5 gp120s and to mediate infection by R5 HIV-1 isolates. Conversely, the R163G mutant of AGM CCR5 was substantially strengthened as a coreceptor for HIV-1 and had improved R5 gp120 binding affinity relative to the wild-type AGM CCR5. These substitutions at amino acid position 163 had no effect on chemokine binding or signal transduction, suggesting the absence of structural alterations. The 2D7 monoclonal antibody has been reported to bind to ECL2 and to block HIV-1 binding and infection. Whereas 2D7 antibody binding to CCR5 was unaffected by the G163R mutation, it was prevented by a conservative ECL2 substitution (K171R), shared between rhesus and AGM CCR5s. Thus, it appears that the 2D7 antibody binds to an epitope that includes Lys-171 and may block HIV-1 infection mediated by CCR5 by occluding an HIV-1-binding site in the vicinity of Gly163. In summary, our results identify a site for gp120 interaction that is critical for R5 isolates of HIV-1 in the central core of human CCR5, and we propose that this site collaborates with a previously identified region in the CCR5 amino terminus to enable gp120 binding and HIV-1 infections.