Rapid neurotransmitter release depends on the Ca 2+ sensor Synaptotagmin-1 (Syt1) and the SNARE complex formed by synaptobrevin, syntaxin-1 and SNAP-25. How Syt1 triggers release has been unclear, partly because elucidating high-resolution structures of Syt1-SNARE complexes has been challenging. An NMR approach based on lanthanide-induced pseudocontact shifts now reveals a dynamic binding mode in which basic residues in the concave side of the Syt1 C 2 B-domain β-sandwich interact with a polyacidic region of the SNARE complex formed by syntaxin-1 and SNAP-25. The physiological relevance of this dynamic structural model is supported by mutations in basic residues of Syt1 that markedly impair SNARE-complex binding in vitro and Syt1 function in neurons. Mutations with milder effects on binding have correspondingly milder effects on Syt1 function. Our results support a model whereby dynamic interaction facilitates cooperation between Syt1 and the SNAREs in inducing membrane fusion.