Arrestins regulate signaling and trafficking of G protein-coupled receptors by virtue of their preferential binding to the phosphorylated active form of the receptor. To identify sites in arrestin involved in receptor interaction, a nitroxide-containing side chain was introduced at each of 28 different positions in visual arrestin, and the dynamics of the side chain was used to monitor arrestin interaction with phosphorylated forms of its cognate receptor, rhodopsin. At physiological concentrations, visual arrestin associates with both inactive dark phosphorylated rhodopsin (P-Rh) and light-activated phosphorylated rhodopsin (P-Rh*). Residues distributed over the concave surfaces of the two arrestin domains are involved in weak interactions with both states of phosphorhodopsin, and the flexible C-terminal sequence (C-tail) of arrestin becomes dynamically disordered in both complexes. A large-scale movement of the C-tail is demonstrated by direct distance measurements using a doubly labeled arrestin with one nitroxide in the C-tail and the other in the N-domain. Despite some overlap, the molecular "footprint" of arrestin bound to P-Rh and P-Rh* is different, showing the structure of the complexes to be unique. Strong immobilizing interactions with residues in a highly flexible loop between beta-strands V and VI are only observed in complex with the activated state. This result identifies this loop as a key recognition site in the arrestin-P-Rh* complex and supports the view that flexible sequences are key elements in protein-protein interactions.