Expression of the human interferon gamma receptor (IFN-gamma R) in mouse cells is not sufficient to confer biological responsiveness to human IFN-gamma and vice versa. An additional species-specific component is required for signal transduction. We identified this cofactor by expression cloning in simian COS cells stably transfected with the nonfunctional murine IFN-gamma R and a IFN-gamma-inducible reporter construct encoding the human Tac antigen (interleukin-2 receptor alpha chain, CD25). A cDNA clone was obtained that, upon stable transfection, rendered human HEp-2 cells expressing the murine IFN-gamma R fully responsive to murine IFN-gamma. This cDNA encodes a novel 332 amino acid type I transmembrane protein that belongs to the IFN receptor family and that we designate IFN-gamma R beta chain.