Expression of the human transferrin receptor (hTR) and its mRNA is strongly induced by iron deprivation. By measuring transcription elongation rates, levels of hTR-specific nuclear RNA, and mRNA half-lives, we found this regulation to occur posttranscriptionally in the cytoplasm. Analysis of hTR cDNA mutants with deletions in the 3' untranslated region revealed the existence of two distinct domains, both of which are essential for regulation in mouse L cells. The regulated phenotype correlates with the presence of a stem-loop structure predicted by a computer algorithm. Expression of point and deletion mutants affecting the stem-loop confirmed the requirement for this secondary structure in regulation. The 3' untranslated region of hTR cDNA was sufficient to confer iron-dependent regulation on another gene.