A cDNA coding for the human interferon alpha receptor has been cloned using a gene transfer approach. This consists of transferring human DNA to mouse cells and selecting for cells sensitive to human interferon alpha. The transfected cells expressed the human interferon alpha receptor, and a 5 kb human DNA was isolated from a secondary transfectant. This DNA defects an mRNA present in human cells and was used to clone a 2.7 kb cDNA from a library constructed from human Daudi cells. The sequence of the cDNA is presented. It codes for a glycoprotein of 557 amino acids with an N-terminal hydrophobic region and a single transmembrane-spanning segment. Mouse cells expressing the cDNA become sensitive to the antiviral activity of and express binding sites for human interferon alpha, demonstrating that the cloned cDNA encodes a functional human interferon alpha receptor.