The spike glycoprotein (S) of recently identified Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) targets the cellular receptor, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4). Sequence comparison and modeling analysis have revealed a putative receptor-binding domain (RBD) on the viral spike, which mediates this interaction. We report the 3.0 Å-resolution crystal structure of MERS-CoV RBD bound to the extracellular domain of human DPP4. Our results show that MERS-CoV RBD consists of a core and a receptor-binding subdomain. The receptor-binding subdomain interacts with DPP4 β-propeller but not its intrinsic hydrolase domain. MERS-CoV RBD and related SARS-CoV RBD share a high degree of structural similarity in their core subdomains, but are notably divergent in the receptor-binding subdomain. Mutagenesis studies have identified several key residues in the receptor-binding subdomain that are critical for viral binding to DPP4 and entry into the target cell. The atomic details at the interface between MERS-CoV RBD and DPP4 provide structural understanding of the virus and receptor interaction, which can guide development of therapeutics and vaccines against MERS-CoV infection.