The structure of the murine interleukin-4 receptor (mIL-4R) gene has been determined. The gene spans approximately 25 kilobases (kb) of DNA and is composed of 12 exons interrupted by 11 introns. The gene contains sequences accounting for all the sequences present in the functional mIL-4R cDNAs, including several exons which can encode DNA inserts found in recently cloned IL-4R cDNA variants. Thus expression of the gene may be regulated, at least in part, by alternative splicing. A combination of S1 nuclease protection and primer extension assays was used to localize the 5' end of the gene and demonstrated the use of multiple transcription initiation sites within this region. We have found that the overall intron-exon organization of the murine IL-4R gene is markedly similar to that of the murine erythropoietin receptor (m-epoR) and the human interleukin-2 receptor beta chain (hIL-2R beta), as well as the human growth hormone receptor (hGhR). This is consistent with the recent grouping of these receptors, on the basis of protein sequence homology, into the hematopoietin receptor gene superfamily. Such homology at the levels of both protein and gene structure suggest a divergent evolution of the receptors from a single primordial gene.