Complementary DNAs corresponding to the human receptor for interleukin 2 (IL-2) have been molecularly cloned, sequenced, and expressed in COS-1 cells. The human genome appears to contain a single structural gene for this receptor; however, when transcribed at least two messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are produced which vary in length due to the use of different polyadenylation signals. Sequence analysis of the cloned complementary DNAs indicates an alternate pathway of mRNA processing for this receptor. Splicing of a 216 base pairs segment contained within the protein coding region results in an mRNA unable to code for the IL-2 receptor. In contact complementary DNAs corresponding to unspliced mRNA encode membrane receptors which bind both IL-2 and anti-Tac (monoclonal anti-IL-2 receptor antibody). Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence reveals that the receptor is composed of 272 amino acids including a signal peptide 21 amino acids in length. Hydrophobicity analysis suggests a single 19 amino acid transmembrane domain. A short intracytoplasmic domain composed of 13 amino acids is present at the carboxy terminus and contains three potential phosphate acceptor sites (serine and threonine but not tyrosine) and typical positively charged amino acids presumably involved in cytoplasmic anchoring. Two sites for N-linked glycosylation sites and numerous extracytoplasmic O-linked glycosylation sites are present.