Receptor interacting protein 140 (RIP140) interacts with retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoid X receptor (RXR) constitutively, but hormone binding enhances this interaction. The ligand-independent interaction is mediated by the amino and central regions of RIP140 which contain a total of nine copies of the LXXLL motif, whereas the agonist-induced interaction is mediated by its carboxyl terminus which contains a novel motif (1063-1076, LTKTNPILYYMLQK). The ligand-independent interaction could be enhanced slightly by agonists, whereas the ligand-dependent interaction was strictly agonist dependent for both RAR and RXR. In the context of heterodimers, ligand occupancy of RXR played a more dominant role for both molecular interaction and biological activity of RIP140. Competition and mutation studies demonstrated an essential role for 1067Asn and 1073Met for a ligand-dependent interaction. A model was proposed to address the constitutive and agonist-dependent interaction of RIP140 with RAR/RXR.