The MHC class I-related receptor, FcRn, is involved in binding and transporting immunoglobulin G (IgG) within and across cells. In contrast to mouse FcRn, which binds to IgGs from multiple different species, human FcRn is surprisingly stringent in binding specificity. For example, human FcRn does not bind to mouse IgG1 or IgG2a and interacts only weakly with mouse IgG2b. Here, we have used site-directed mutagenesis in combination with interaction (surface plasmon resonance) studies, with the goal of generating human FcRn variants that more closely resemble mouse FcRn in binding specificity. Our studies show that residues encompassing and extending away from the interaction site on the alpha2 helix of FcRn play a significant and most likely indirect role in FcRn-IgG interactions. Further, by combining mutations in the alpha2 helix with those in a non-conserved region of the alpha1 helix encompassing residues 79-89, we have generated a human FcRn variant that has properties very similar to those of mouse FcRn. These studies define the molecular basis for the marked difference in binding specificity between human and rodent FcRn, and give insight into how human FcRn recognizes IgGs.