The high-affinity receptor for immunoglobulin E, Fc epsilon RI, is found exclusively on mast cells and basophils. When multivalent allergens bind to the receptor-bound IgE, the consequent aggregation of the receptors leads to the release of mediators responsible for allergic symptoms. In rodents Fc epsilon RI is a tetrameric complex of non-covalently attached subunits: one IgE-binding alpha subunit, one beta subunit and a dimer of disulphide-linked gamma subunits. Complementary DNA encoding the alpha and the beta subunits has recently been isolated, but expression of IgE-binding by transfected cells has not yet been achieved. Here we report the cloning of cDNA for the gamma subunit, and propose a model for the alpha beta gamma 2 tetramer which accounts for many of the structural features of the receptor. The rodent receptor on the surface of COS 7 cells was expressed only when the cDNAs for all three subunits were cotransfected. Successful expression of human IgE receptors should now be possible, eventually to permit the detailed analysis of the human IgE-receptor interaction and assist the search for therapeutically effective inhibitors.