The common gamma chain (gamma c) of the IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15 receptors is defective in humans with XSCID. Mice lacking gamma c expression had hypoplastic thymuses; the thymocytes responded to gamma c-independent mitogens, but not gamma c-dependent stimuli. Splenic T cells were diminished at 3 weeks of age, but CD4+ T cells markedly increased by 4 weeks. B cells were greatly diminished in contrast with the situation in XSCID. NK cells, gamma delta intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, dendritic epidermal T cells, peripheral lymph nodes, and gut-associated lymphoid tissue were absent. These findings underscore the importance of gamma c in lymphoid development. Moreover, differences in humans and mice lacking gamma c expression indicate species-specific differences in the roles of gamma c-dependent cytokines or in the existence of redundant pathways. These mice provide an important model for studying the pathophysiology provide an important model for studying the pathophysiology of and gene therapy for human XSCID.