Thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) is a recently identified CC chemokine that is expressed constitutively in thymus and transiently in stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. TARC functions as a selective chemoattractant for T cells that express a class of receptors binding TARC with high affinity and specificity. To identify the receptor for TARC, we produced TARC as a fusion protein with secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) and used it for specific binding. By stably transfecting five orphan receptors and five known CC chemokine receptors (CCR1 to -5) into K562 cells, we found that TARC-SEAP bound selectively to cells expressing CCR4. TARC-SEAP also bound to K562 cells stably expressing CCR4 with a high affinity (Kd = 0.5 nM). Only TARC and not five other CC chemokines (MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1), RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cells expressed and secreted), MIP-1alpha (macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha), MIP-1beta, and LARC (liver and activation-regulated chemokine)) competed with TARC-SEAP for binding to CCR4. TARC but not RANTES or MIP-1alpha induced migration and calcium mobilization in 293/EBNA-1 cells stably expressing CCR4. K562 cells stably expressing CCR4 also responded to TARC in a calcium mobilization assay. Northern blot analysis revealed that CCR4 mRNA was expressed strongly in human T cell lines and peripheral blood T cells but not in B cells, natural killer cells, monocytes, or granulocytes. Taken together, TARC is a specific functional ligand for CCR4, and CCR4 is the specific receptor for TARC selectively expressed on T cells.