We have selected mutations in genes encoding components of the signaling pathway for alpha interferon (IFN-alpha) by using a specially constructed cell line. The upstream region of the IFN-regulated human gene 6-16 was fused to the Escherichia coli guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (gpt) gene and transfected into hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase-negative human cells. These cells express gpt only in the presence of IFN-alpha. They grow in medium containing hypoxanthine, aminopterin, and thymidine plus IFN and are killed by 6-thioguanine plus IFN. Two different types of mutants were obtained after treating the cells with mutagens. A recessive mutant, selected in 6-thioguanine plus IFN, was completely resistant to IFN-alpha but responded normally to IFN-gamma and, unexpectedly, partially to IFN-beta. A constitutive mutant, selected in hypoxanthine-aminopterin-thymidine alone, was abnormal in expressing endogenous genes in the absence of IFN. Both types revert infrequently, allowing selection for complementation of the defects by transfection.