Activation of the A(3) adenosine receptor (A(3)AR) contributes to the cardioprotective, bronchoconstrictive, and hypotensive effects of adenosine. Agonist occupation of the A(3)AR results in a rapid desensitization of receptor function, which is associated with the phosphorylation of the receptor protein by one or more members of the G protein-coupled receptor kinase family of protein kinases. Although we demonstrated previously that phosphorylation of the C-terminal 14 amino acids of the rat A(3)AR is crucial for rapid desensitization to occur, the identity of the critical phosphorylation sites has remained unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the simultaneous mutation of Thr(307), Thr(318), and Thr(319) to Ala residues dramatically reduces agonist-stimulated phosphorylation and rapid desensitization of the rat A(3)AR. Individual mutation of each residue demonstrated that Thr(318) and Thr(319) are the major sites of phosphorylation. Phosphorylation at Thr(318) appeared to be necessary to observe phosphorylation at Thr(319), but not vice versa. However, the replacement of Thr(318) with a glutamate residue demonstrated that the simple addition of negative charge at position 318 was not sufficient to rescue phosphorylation at position 319. In addition, the mutation of two predicted palmitoylation-site cysteine residues proximal to the regulatory domain resulted in the appearance of an agonist-independent basal phosphorylation. Therefore, G protein-coupled receptor kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the C-terminal tail of the A(3)AR in situ appears to follow a sequential mechanism, perhaps involving receptor depalmitoylation, with phosphorylation at Thr(318) being particularly important.