The interleukin 7 receptor (IL-7R) plays a crucial role in early B- and T-cell development. It consists of a unique a chain and a common gamma chain [IL-2 receptor gamma chain (IL-2Rgamma)]. Gene inactivation of IL-7, IL-7R, and IL-2Rgamma resulted in severe impairment of B and T lymphopoiesis in mice. In addition, IL-2Rgamma-deficient mice lack gammadelta T cells in the skin and have the impaired development of natural killer (NK) cells and intraepithelial lymphocytes. To explore the role of IL-7/IL-7R system in gammadelta T- and NK-cell development, we have generated and analyzed IL-7R-deficient mice. gammadelta T cells were absent from skin, gut, liver, and spleen in the deficient mice. In contrast, alphabeta T and B cells were detected in reduced, but certain, numbers, and NK cells developed normally. The gammadelta T-cell development in fetal and adult thymus was also completely blocked. These results clearly demonstrate that the signal from IL-7R is indispensable for gammadelta T-cell development in both thymic and extrathymic pathways. On the contrary, it is suggested that NK-cell development requires cytokine(s) other than IL-7.