Spironolactone is a mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist in clinical use. The compound has a very low affinity for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Determinants of binding specificity of spironolactone to the MR were investigated using chimeras created between the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) of the MR and the GR. These chimeras had previously been used to investigate aldosterone binding specificity to the MR. Spironolactone was able to compete strongly for [(3)H]-aldosterone and [(3)H]-dexamethasone binding to a chimera containing amino acids 804-874 of the MR, and weakly for [(3)H]-dexamethasone binding to a chimera containing amino acids 672-803 of the MR. Amino acids 804-874 were also critical for aldosterone binding specificity. Models of the MR LBD bound to aldosterone and spironolactone were created based on the crystal structure of the progesterone receptor LBD. The ligand-binding pocket of the MR LBD model consisted of 23 amino acids and was predominantly hydrophobic in nature. Analysis of this model in light of the experimental data suggested that spironolactone binding specificity is not governed by amino acids in the ligand-binding pocket.