It has been postulated that, during evolution of the Ig superfamily, modifications of the function of individual receptors might occur by acquisition of exons and their subsequent modification, though evidence of this is lacking. Here we have analysed the interaction of mouse IgG subclasses with high-affinity FcgammaRI (CD64) which contains three Ig-like domains and is important in innate and adaptive immunity. This analysis has identified a mechanism by which the postulated modification of newly acquired exons provides gains in function. Thus, the most widely distributed FcgammaRI allele in mice (e.g. BALB/c), bound only a single IgG subclass, IgG2a, with high affinity. However, non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice expressed a unique allele that exhibits broader specificity and, in addition to binding IgG2a, FcgammaRI-NOD bound monomeric IgG3 and bound IgG2b with high affinity, an IgG subclass not bound by FcgammaRI of other mouse strains, either as monomer or multivalent immune complexes. Analysis of mutants of FcgammaRI wherein segments of the interdomain junctions were exchanged between FcgammaRI-BALB and FcgammaRI-NOD identified these regions as having major influence in 'gain-of-function' by the NOD form of FcgammaRI. Nucleotide sequence analysis of intron/exon boundaries encoding the interdomain junctions of the FcgammaRI alleles showed these to have arisen by mutation to alter existing or create new mRNA splice donor/acceptor sites, resulting in generation of modified junctions.