Many neurological pathologies are related to misfolded proteins. During folding and assembly in the endoplasmic reticulum, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits undergo several conformational changes to acquire the ability to bind ligands. After folding and maturation, by mechanisms largely unknown, receptors are exported to the cell surface. We investigated the maturational role of the extracellular C-terminal segment located at the boundary between the extracellular and the transmembrane domains. In the functional chimeric α7–5HT3A receptor used as a model system, amino acids from the C-terminal segment were successively deleted or mutated. Upon progressive shortening of the peptide we observed less and less α-bungarotoxin binding sites until no sites could be detected when the entire peptide had been deleted (chimera Del 5). Protein synthesis and pentameric assembly were not altered. In Del 5 transfected cells, pentameric receptors present in the endoplasmic reticulum were not detected on the cell surface where Del 5 proteins appeared as patches. With the Del 5 chimera, export of proteins to the cell surface diminished to about half that of wild-type. We propose that the C-terminal segment plays a double role: (i) through an interaction between the penultimate tyrosine residue of the C-terminal segment and the Cys loop of the N-terminal domain, it locks the receptor in a mature α-bungarotoxin binding conformation; (ii) this mature conformation, in turn, masks a retention signal present in the first transmembrane segment allowing properly assembled and matured receptors to escape to the cell surface.