A novel sequence discovered in a computational screen appears distantly related to the p35 subunit of IL-12. This factor, which we term p19, shows no biological activity by itself; instead, it combines with the p40 subunit of IL-12 to form a novel, biologically active, composite cytokine, which we term IL-23. Activated dendritic cells secrete detectable levels of this complex. IL-23 binds to IL-12R beta 1 but fails to engage IL-12R beta 2; nonetheless, IL-23 activates Stat4 in PHA blast T cells. IL-23 induces strong proliferation of mouse memory (CD4(+)CD45Rb(low)) T cells, a unique activity of IL-23 as IL-12 has no effect on this cell population. Similar to IL-12, human IL-23 stimulates IFN-gamma production and proliferation in PHA blast T cells, as well as in CD45RO (memory) T cells.