JAK is believed to be an essential tyrosine kinase that mediates signals from the cytokine receptor to its downstream events. JAK associates with the cytoplasmic domain of the type I cytokine receptor superfamily and upon the ligand stimulation it can be activated, resulting in the receptor phosphorylation. In signaling from gp130, a common signal transducer for the IL-6 family cytokines, STAT3, a transcription factor that contains an SH2 domain, is recruited by phosphotyrosines on gp130 and is subsequently phosphorylated by gp130-associated JAKs. In this study, we attempted to find a new target for JAK that is directly activated by JAK, independent of gp130 tyrosine phosphorylation, by using a yeast two-hybrid system. In the process we found that the JH2 domain of JAK1, JAK2 or JAK3 could specifically associate with the carboxy-terminal portion of STAT5, but not with STAT3 or STAT1. The interaction was confirmed using both a transient expression system in a cell line and a GST-fusion protein binding assay. Furthermore, we showed that the activation of STAT5 via gp130 did not need any phosphotyrosines on gp130 while that of STAT3 strictly depended on phosphotyrosines on gp130. Mutations of STAT5 that eliminated the interaction with JAK1 reduced the activation of STAT5 upon the gp130 stimulation, although such mutants could be still activated through erythropoietin receptor. These results indicate that STATs are activated through cytokine receptors by two distinct mechanisms, one dependent on receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and the other mediated by the JAK-STAT direct interaction.