We have detected directly the interactions of sarcolipin (SLN) and the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase (SERCA) by measuring fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between fusion proteins labeled with cyan fluorescent protein (donor) and yellow fluorescent protein (acceptor). SLN is a membrane protein that helps control contractility by regulating SERCA activity in fast-twitch and atrial muscle. Here we used FRET microscopy and spectroscopy with baculovirus expression in insect cells to provide direct evidence for: 1) oligomerization of SLN and 2) regulatory complex formation between SLN and the fast-twitch muscle Ca-ATPase (SERCA1a isoform). FRET experiments demonstrated that SLN monomers self-associate into dimers and higher order oligomers in the absence of SERCA, and that SLN monomers also bind toSERCAmonomers in a 1:1 binary complex when the two proteins are coexpressed. FRET experiments further demonstrated that the binding affinity of SLN for itself is similar to that for SERCA. Mutating SLN residue isoleucine-17 to alanine (I17A) decreased the binding affinity of SLN self-association and converted higher order oligomers into monomers and dimers. The I17A mutation also decreased SLN binding affinity for SERCA but maintained 1:1 stoichiometry in the regulatory complex. Thus, isoleucine-17 plays dual roles in determining the distribution of SLN homooligomers and stabilizing the formation of SERCA-SLN heterodimers. FRET results for SLN self-association were supported by the effects of SLN expression in bacterial cells. We propose that SLN exists as multiple molecular species in muscle, including SERCA-free (monomer, dimer, oligomer) and SERCA-bound (heterodimer), with transmembrane zipper residues of SLN serving to stabilize oligomeric interactions.