Growth factors have been implicated in thymocyte development, but mutants lacking cytokines, or their receptors, have failed to reveal essential roles for growth/differentiation factors in the thymus. Mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase c-kit and the common cytokine receptor gamma chain (gamma c) reduce cellularity, but are permissive for thymocyte development. We now report that thymocyte development is completely abrogated in mice lacking both c-kit and gamma c (c-kit-gamma c-). Thymic hypocellularity is so severe that the T cell receptor repertoire fails to form except for monoclonal or oligoclonal beta chain DJ rearrangements. B lymphopoiesis is only mildly reduced in c-kit-gamma c- as compared with c-kit+gamma c- mice, and hematological values are identical comparing c-kit-deficient and c-kit-gamma c- mice. These experiments reveal essential, overlapping, and synergistic functions for two distinct signaling pathways, one utilizing c-kit and the other cytokine receptor gamma c complexes coupling to Janus kinases and signal transducers and activators of transcription.