The function of the Fc receptors gamma chain (FcR gamma) for the expression of the T cell receptor (TCR) complex and for T cell development, especially for T cells localized in epithelia, was investigated by analyzing FcR gamma-deficient mice. In wild-type mice, CD8 alpha alpha + beta -TCR alpha beta + T cells of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (i-IEL) utilized CD3 zeta homodimers and zeta-FcR gamma heterodimers, whereas CD8 alpha alpha + beta -TCR gamma delta + i-IEL used zeta-FcR gamma and FcR gamma homodimers in the TCR complex. On the other hand, these T cells in FcR gamma-deficient mice contained only zeta homodimers. The surface expression of the TCR complex was reduced in CD8 alpha alpha + beta -i-IEL and dendritic epidermal T cells (DETC) in these mice, whereas the development of these T cells was normal. The degree of reduction appeared to depend on the expression level of FcR gamma. In contrast to these populations, TCR gamma delta + intraepithelial T cells in reproductive organs (r-IEL) were dramatically decreased, suggesting that the development of r-IEL is FcR gamma-dependent, probably due to the predominant usage of FcR gamma homodimers in the TCR complex. These results indicate that the FcR gamma chain contributes differently to the TCR expression and to the development of T cells localized in epithelia.