Signal transduction of cytokine receptors is mediated by the JAK family of tyrosine kinases. Recently, the kinase partners for the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor have been identified as JAK1 and JAK3. In this study, we report the identification of splice variants that may modulate JAK3 signaling. Three splice variants were isolated from different mRNA sources: breast (B), spleen (S), and activated monocytes (M). Sequence analysis revealed that the splice variants contain identical NH2-terminal regions but diverge at the COOH termini. Analyses of expression of the JAK3 splice isoforms by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction on a panel of cell lines show splice preferences in different cell lines: the S-form is more commonly seen in hematopoietic lines, whereas the B- and M-forms are detected in cells both of hematopoietic and epithelial origins. Antibodies raised against peptides to the B-form splice variant confirmed that the 125-kDa JAK3B protein product is found abundantly in hematopoietic as well as epithelial cells, including primary breast cancers. The lack of subdomain XI in the tyrosinekinase core of the B-form JAK3 protein suggests that it is a defective kinase. This is supported by the lack of detected autokinase activity of the B-form JAK3. Intriguingly, both the S and B splice isoforms of JAK3 appear to co- immunoprecipitate with the IL-2 receptor from HUT-78 cell lysates. This and the presence of multiple COOH-terminal splice variants coexpressed in the same cells suggest that the JAK3 splice isoforms are functional in JAK3 signaling and may enrich the complexity of the intracellular responses functional in IL-2 or cytokine signaling.