IL-4 plays an important role in regulating immune responses. Distinct signaling pathways, including those for gene activation and cell differentiation and those for cell proliferation and protection from apoptosis, are initiated from the receptor complex for IL-4 following ligand-receptor engagement. Several advances have been made in our understanding of how distinct functions of IL-4 are mediated. Most of these studies employed artificial mutations of the IL-4-receptor alpha chain using site-directed mutagenesis and/or deletional mutation. In addition, naturally occurring mutations of the IL-4-receptor alpha chain have been identified and implicated as a genetic predisposition for allergic disorders. The results of these studies suggest a modular organization of the receptor and an independent regulation of gene activation and cell growth.