Complementary DNAs corresponding to the human receptor for interleukin-2 (IL-2) have been molecularly cloned, sequenced, and expressed in both COS-1 and L cells. The human genome appears to contain a single structural gene for this receptor located on the short arm of chromosome 10 (band 14-15). However, when transcribed, at least two families of mRNAs are produced, which vary in length due to the use of at least three different polyadenylation signals. Sequence analysis of the cloned cDNAs and S1 nuclease protection assays indicate an alternative pathway of mRNA processing for this receptor whereby a 216 base-pair segment contained within the protein coding region is spliced, resulting in an mRNA unable to encode a functional IL-2 receptor. In contrast, cDNAs corresponding to mRNA retaining this 216 base-pair region code membrane receptors that 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 and contains two potential phosphate acceptor sites (serine and threonine but not tyrosine) as well as positively charged residues presumably involved in cytoplasmic anchoring. Two sites for N-linked glycosylation sites and numerous extracytoplasmic O-linked glycosylation sites are present.