The HMG (high-mobility group)-box-containing chromatin-remodelling factor SRY (sex-determining region on the Y chromosome) plays a key role in sex determination. Its role in the nucleus is critically dependent on two NLSs (nuclear localization signals) that flank its HMG domain: the C-terminally located 'beta-NLS' that mediates nuclear transport through Impbeta1 (importin beta1) and the N-terminally located 'CaM-NLS' which is known to recognize the calcium-binding protein CaM (calmodulin). In the present study, we examined a number of missense mutations in the SRY CaM-NLS from human XY sex-reversed females for the first time, showing that they result in significantly reduced nuclear localization of GFP (green fluorescent protein)-SRY fusion proteins in transfected cells compared with wild-type. The CaM antagonist CDZ (calmidazolium chloride) was found to significantly reduce wild-type SRY nuclear accumulation, indicating dependence of SRY nuclear import on CaM. Intriguingly, the CaM-NLS mutants were all resistant to CDZ's effects, implying a loss of interaction with CaM, which was confirmed by direct binding experiments. CaM-binding/resultant nuclear accumulation was the only property of SRY found to be impaired by two of the CaM-NLS mutations, implying that inhibition of CaM-dependent nuclear import is the basis of sex reversal in these cases. Importantly, the CaM-NLS is conserved in other HMG-box-domain-containing proteins such as SOX-2, -9, -10 and HMGN1, all of which were found for the first time to rely on CaM for optimal nuclear localization. CaM-dependent nuclear translocation is thus a common mechanism for this family of important transcription factors.