Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and gamma-interferon (IFNgamma) activate an overlapping set of genes via the Jak/STAT pathway. However, at least in human cells, a differential activation of STAT transcription factors was observed: IL-6 activates both acute phase response factor (APRF)/STAT3 and STAT1, whereas IFNgamma leads only to STAT1 activation. All STATs cloned so far contain SH2 domains. Since all cytokine receptors using the Jak/STAT pathway were found to be tyrosine-phosphorylated after ligand binding, it has been proposed that specific phosphotyrosine modules within the cytoplasmic domain of the receptor chains recruit different STAT factors. We have analyzed by mutational studies and by phosphopeptide competition assays which of the tyrosine modules of the IL-6 signal transducer gp130 are capable of recruiting either APRF or STAT1. We found that two of the four tyrosine modules that are important for APRF activation also activate STAT1. For these modules, we propose the new consensus sequence YXPQ. We further present evidence that STAT1 is activated independently from APRF suggesting that gp130 contains multiple independent STAT binding sites. We compare the APRF and STAT1 activation motifs of gp130 with the STAT1 activation motif of the IFNgamma receptor and demonstrate that the specificity of activation can be changed from APRF to STAT1 and vice versa by only two point mutations within a tyrosine module. These data strongly support the concept that the activation of a specific STAT is determined mainly by the phosphotyrosine module. The significance of these findings for other receptor systems is discussed.