We previously demonstrated using noninvasive technologies that the interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) receptor complex is preassembled (1). In this report we determined how the receptor complex is preassembled and how the ligand-mediated conformational changes occur. The interaction of Stat1 with IFN-gammaR1 results in a conformational change localized to IFN-gammaR1. Jak1 but not Jak2 is required for the two chains of the IFN-gamma receptor complex (IFN-gammaR1 and IFN-gammaR2) to interact; however, the presence of both Jak1 and Jak2 is required to see any ligand-dependant conformational change. Two IFN-gammaR2 chains interact through species-specific determinants in their extracellular domains. Finally, these determinants also participate in the interaction of IFN-gammaR2 with IFN-gammaR1. These results agree with a detailed model of the IFN-gamma receptor that requires the receptor chains to be pre-associated constitutively for the receptor to be active.