Guanine nucleotide exchange factors for the Rho family of GTPases contain a Dbl homology (DH) domain responsible for catalysis and a pleckstrin homology (PH) domain whose function is unknown. Here we describe the solution structure of the N-terminal DH domain of Trio that catalyzes nucleotide exchange for Rac1. The all-alpha-helical protein has a very different structure compared to other exchange factors. Based on site-directed mutagenesis, functionally important residues of the DH domain were identified. They are all highly conserved and reside in close proximity on two a helices. In addition, we have discovered a unique capability of the PH domain to enhance nucleotide exchange in DH domain-containing proteins.