Many receptors and ion channels are activated by ligands. One key question concerns the binding mechanism. Does the ligand induce conformational changes in the protein via the induced-fit mechanism? Or does the protein preexist as an ensemble of conformers and the ligand selects the most complementary one, via the conformational selection mechanism? Here, we study ligand binding of a tetrameric cyclic nucleotide-gated channel from Mesorhizobium loti and of its monomeric binding domain (CNBD) using rapid mixing, mutagenesis, and structure-based computational biology. Association rate constants of ?10(7) M(-1) s(-1) are compatible with diffusion-limited binding. Ligand binding to the full-length CNG channel and the isolated CNBD differ, revealing allosteric control of the CNBD by the effector domain. Finally, mutagenesis of allosteric residues affects only the dissociation rate constant, suggesting that binding follows the induced-fit mechanism. This study illustrates the strength of combining mutational, kinetic, and computational approaches to unravel important mechanistic features of ligand binding.