GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is an incretin released from intestinal L-cells in response to food intake. Activation of the GLP-1 receptor potentiates the synthesis and release of insulin from pancreatic beta-cells in a glucose-dependent manner. The GLP-1 receptor belongs to class B of the G-protein-coupled receptors, a subfamily characterized by a large N-terminal extracellular ligand binding domain. Exendin-4 and GLP-1 are 50% identical, and exendin-4 is a full agonist with similar affinity and potency for the GLP-1 receptor. We recently solved the crystal structure of the GLP-1 receptor extracellular domain in complex with the competitive antagonist exendin-4(9-39). Interestingly, the isolated extra-cellular domain binds exendin-4 with much higher affinity than the endogenous agonist GLP-1. Here, we have solved the crystal structure of the extracellular domain in complex with GLP-1 to 2.1 angstrom resolution. The structure shows that important hydrophobic ligand-receptor interactions are conserved in agonist-and antagonist-bound forms of the extracellular domain, but certain residues in the ligand-binding site adopt a GLP-1-specific conformation. GLP-1 is a kinked but continuous alpha-helix from Thr(13) to Val(33) when bound to the extracellular domain. We supplemented the crystal structure with site-directed mutagenesis to link the structural information of the isolated extracellular domain with the binding properties of the full-length receptor. The data support the existence of differences in the binding modes of GLP-1 and exendin-4 on the full-length GLP-1 receptor.