Mammalian circadian clocks are driven by transcription/translation feedback loops composed of positive transcriptional activators (BMAL1 and CLOCK) and negative repressors (CRYPTOCHROMEs (CRYs) and PERIODs (PERs)). CRYs, in complex with PERs, bind to the BMAL1/CLOCK complex and repress E-box-driven transcription of clock-associated genes. There are two individual CRYs, with CRY1 exhibiting higher affinity to the BMAL1/CLOCK complex than CRY2. It is known that this differential binding is regulated by a dynamic serine-rich loop adjacent to the secondary pocket of both CRYs, but the underlying features controlling loop dynamics are not known. Here we report that allosteric regulation of the serine-rich loop is mediated by Arg-293 of CRY1, identified as a rare CRY1 SNP in the Ensembl and 1000 Genomes databases. The p.Arg293His CRY1 variant caused a shortened circadian period in a Cry1(-/-)Cry2(-/-) double knockout mouse embryonic fibroblast cell line. Moreover, the variant displayed reduced repressor activity on BMAL1/CLOCK driven transcription, which is explained by reduced affinity to BMAL1/CLOCK in the absence of PER2 compared with CRY1. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the p.Arg293His CRY1 variant altered a communication pathway between Arg-293 and the serine loop by reducing its dynamicity. Collectively, this study provides direct evidence that allosterism in CRY1 is critical for the regulation of circadian rhythm.