Interleukin (IL)-5 binds to a cell surface receptor composed of two polypeptide chains, α and β, both belonging to the hemopoietic cytokine receptor family. Mouse cells expressing common mouse β chain (AIC2B) that were transfected with human IL-5 receptor (R)α cDNA proliferated in response to picomolar concentrations of human IL-5, indicating that a functional receptor was reconstituted. We show that in these cells, human (h)IL-5 as well as mouse (m)IL-3 induce tyrosine phosphorylation of β chain and JAK 2 kinase. Phosphorylated β receptor was co-precipitated with anti-JAK 2 antibodies, suggesting that both molecules were physically associated. IL-5 and IL-3 also induce cytosolic DNA binding activity as measured by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay using the interferon-γ responsive region of human Fc γ1 gene DNA element. A deletion mutant of hIL-5Rα lacking the cytoplasmic part could bind hIL-5 normally in association with the β chain, but was unable to transmit a biological signal. The cytoplasmic domain was also indispensable for tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of DNA binding proteins. A membrane-proximal proline-rich element of the hIL-5Rα cytoplasmic domain that is conserved among different members of the hemopoietic cytokine receptor family was essential for biological activity. Point mutations in this motif also knocked out IL-5-inducible JAK 2 phosphorylation.