The maintenance of T lymphocytes which are important effectors of immune responses requires the T cell growth factor, interleukin 2 (IL-2). The binding of IL-2 to specific cell-surface receptors (IL-2R) has previously been shown to be essential to the growth and proliferation of activated lymphocytes. A human IL-2R cDNA sequence, placed under the control of the SV40 transcriptional promoter and enhancer, has been transfected into murine L cells. Single cell analysis by autoradiography was used to show that fibroblastic L cells, stably expressing human IL-2R, respond to stimulation with IL-2 by DNA synthesis and proliferation. This response is specifically blocked by the addition of an anti-IL-2R monoclonal antibody, anti-Tac, as previously reported. Neither nonspecific antisera nor 7G7/B6, an anti-IL-2R monoclonal antibody which does not interfere with IL-2 binding to its receptor, had any effect on this response. The induction of DNA synthesis by IL-2 is both rapid and dose-dependent. The ability of IL-2 to stimulate these transfected L cells to proliferate demonstrates that a lymphoid environment is not required for the functional interaction between IL-2 and its receptor, and provides a unique model system for the investigation of the molecular basis for the cellular events mediated by IL-2.