The common γ-chain (γc) is an indispensable subunit of the functional receptor complexes for IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15 as well as IL-2. Here we show that the γc is also shared with the IL-21R complex. Although IL-21 binds to the IL-21R expressed on γc-deficient ED40515- cells, IL-21 is unable to transduce any intracytoplasmic signals. However, in EDγ-16 cells, a γc-transfected ED40515- cell line, IL-21 binds to the IL-21R and can activate Janus kinase (JAK)1, JAK3, STAT1, and STAT3. The chemical cross-linking study reveals the direct binding of IL-21 to the γc. These data clearly demonstrate that the γc is an indispensable subunit of the functional IL-21R complex.