Expression of the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) is induced by interferons, with PKR activity playing a pivotal role in establishing the interferon-induced antiviral and antiproliferative states. PKR is directly regulated by physical association with the specific inhibitor, P58IPK, a cellular protein of the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) family, and K3L, the product of the corresponding vaccinia virus gene. P58IPK and K3L repress PKR activation and activity. To investigate the mechanism of P58IPK- and K3L-mediated PKR inhibition, we have used a combination of in vitro and in vivo binding assays to identify the interactive regions of these proteins. The P58IPK-interacting site of PKR was mapped to a 52-amino-acid aa segment (aa 244 to 296) spanning the ATP-binding region of the protein kinase catalytic domain. The interaction with PKR did not require the C-terminal DNA-J homology region of P58IPK but was dependent on the presence of the eukaryotic initiation factor 2-alpha homology region, mapping to the 34 aa within the sixth P58IPK TPR motif. Consistent with other TPR proteins, P58IPK formed multimers in vivo: the N-terminal 166 aa were both necessary and sufficient for complex formation. A parallel in vivo analysis to map the K3L-binding region of PKR revealed that like P58IPK , K3L interacted exclusively with the PKR protein kinase catalytic domain. In contrast, however, the K3L-binding region of PKR was localized to within aa 367 to 551, demonstrating that each inhibitor bound PKR in unique, nonoverlapping domains. These data, taken together, suggest that P58IPK and K3L may mediate PKR inhibition by distinct mechanisms. Finally, we will propose a model of PKR inhibition in which P58IPK or a P58IPK complex binds PKR and interferes with nucleotide binding and autoregulation, while formation of a PKR-K3L complex interferes with active-site function and/or substrate association.