Prolactin (PRL) receptors (PRLRs) have been considered selective activators of Janus tyrosine kinase (Jak)2 but not Jak1, Jak3, or Tyk2. We now report marked PRL-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of Jak1, in addition to Jak2, in a series of human breast cancer cell lines, including T47D, MCF7, and SKBR3. In contrast, PRL did not activate Jak1 in immortalized, noncancerous breast epithelial lines HC11, MCF10A, ME16C, and HBL-100, or in CWR22Rv1 prostate cancer cells or MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. However, introduction of exogenous PRLR into MCF10A, ME16C, or MDA-MB-231 cells reconstituted both PRL-Jak1 and PRL-Jak2 signals. In vitro kinase assays verified that PRL stimulated enzymatic activity of Jak1 in T47D cells, and PRL activated Jak1 and Jak2 with indistinguishable time and dose kinetics. Relative Jak2 deficiency did not cause PRLR activation of Jak1, because overexpression of Jak2 did not interfere with PRL activation of Jak1. Instead, PRL activated Jak1 through a Jak2-dependent mechanism, based on disruption of PRL activation of Jak1 after Jak2 suppression by 1) lentiviral delivery of Jak2 short hairpin RNA, 2) adenoviral delivery of dominant-negative Jak2, and 3) AG490 pharmacological inhibition. Finally, suppression of Jak1 by lentiviral delivery of Jak1 short hairpin RNA blocked PRL activation of ERK and signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat)3 and suppressed PRL activation of Jak2, Stat5a, Stat5b, and Akt, as well as tyrosine phosphorylation of PRLR. The data suggest that PRL activation of Jak1 represents a novel, Jak2-dependent mechanism that may serve as a regulatory switch leading to PRL activation of ERK and Stat3 pathways, while also serving to enhance PRL-induced Stat5a/b and Akt signaling.