Reversible phosphorylation has long been an attractive mechanism to control cycles of coat assembly and disassembly during clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Many of the coat proteins are phosphorylated in vivo and in vitro. Our work has focused on the role of phosphorylation of the mu2 subunit of AP-2 (adaptor protein 2), which appears to be necessary for efficient cargo recruitment. Studies to probe the regulation of mu2 phosphorylation demonstrated that clathrin is a specific activator of the mu2 kinase, and, in permeabilized cells, cargo sequestration, driven by exogenously added clathrin, results in elevated levels of m2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, phosphorylated mu2 is mainly associated with assembled clathrin in vivo and its steady-state level is strongly reduced in cells depleted of clathrin heavy chain. Our results imply a central role for clathrin in the regulation of cargo selection via modulation of phospho-mu2 levels. This is therefore a novel regulatory role for clathrin that is independent of its structural role and that provides elegant spatial control of AP-2 and cargo interactions, ensuring that AP-2 is only activated at the correct cellular location and in the correct functional context. Ongoing studies are exploring further the roles of reversible phosphorylation in the coated vesicle cycle.