This study examined the role of human recombinant interferon-gamma (rIFN-γ) in the expression of interleukin-2 receptors (IL-2R) by human T lymphocytes. rIFN-γ enhanced total numbers of IL-2R in mitogen-activated but not resting T cells. Scatchard plot analysis indicated that rIFN-γ increased both high- and low-affinity receptors, with a predominant effect on the latter. Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA)-activated T cells treated with IFN-γ showed higher IL-2 binding and greater IL-2 internalization and degradation than cells treated with PHA alone. There was a corresponding increase of mitogen-driven proliferative responses, indicating an increase of functional receptors in IFN-treated cultures. IFN-γ may influence T-cell activation and proliferation by enhancing expression of IL-2R and promoting IL-2 uptake by mitogen-activated lymphocytes.