A variety of cytokines mediate the activation of Janus protein tyrosine kinases (Jaks). The Jaks then phosphorylate cellular substrates, including members of the signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stat) family of transcription factors. Among the Stats, the two highly related proteins, Stat5a and Stat5b, are activated by a variety of cytokines. To assess the role of the Stat5 proteins, mutant mice were derived that have the genes deleted individually or together. The phenotypes of the mice demonstrate an essential, and often redundant, role for the two Stat5 proteins in a spectrum of physiological responses associated with growth hormone and prolactin. Conversely, the responses to a variety of cytokines that activate the Stat5 proteins, including erythropoietin, are largely unaffected.