The Shank/proline-rich synapse-associated protein family of multidomain proteins is known to play an important role in the organization of synaptic multiprotein complexes. For instance, the Shank PDZ domain binds to the C termini of guanylate kinase-associated proteins, which in turn interact with the guanylate kinase domain of postsynaptic density-95 scaffolding proteins. Here we describe the crystal structures of Shank1 PDZ in its peptide free form and in complex with the C-terminal hexapeptide (EAQTRL) of guanylate kinase-associated protein (GKAP1a) determined at 1.8- and 2.25-Angstrom resolutions, respectively. The structure shows the typical class I PDZ interaction of PDZ-peptide complex with the consensus sequence -X-(Thr/Ser)-X-Leu. In addition, Asp-634 within the Shank1 PDZ domain recognizes the positively charged Arg at - 1 position and hydrogen bonds, and salt bridges between Arg-607 and the side chains of the ligand at - 3 and - 5 positions contribute further to the recognition of the peptide ligand. Remarkably, whether free or complexed, Shank1 PDZ domains form dimers with a conserved betaB/betaC loop and N-terminal betaA strands, suggesting a novel model of PDZ-PDZ homodimerization. This implies that antiparallel dimerization through the N-terminal betaA strands could be a common configuration among PDZ dimers. Within the dimeric structure, the two-peptide binding sites are arranged so that the N termini of the bound peptide ligands are in close proximity and oriented toward the 2-fold axis of the dimer. This configuration may provide a means of facilitating dimeric organization of PDZ-target assemblies.