Mouse IgG3 appears early in immune responses independently of T cell help and, as such, is an early effector molecule of the immune system. Yet, a specific IgG3 cellular receptor remains undefined. In transfection experiments, mouse Fc gammaRI was clearly able to bind immune complexes of IgG3, whereas mouse Fc gammaRII could not. Furthermore, macrophages from mice expressing Fc gammaRII and Fc gammaRIII but lacking Fc gammaRI were unable to phagocytose IgG3 immune complexes, thus identifying mouse Fc gammaRI as the sole receptor for IgG3 immune complexes. Competition studies demonstrated that monomeric mouse IgG3 could inhibit IgG2a binding to mouse Fc gammaRI with an ID50 approximately 10(-7) M (fivefold lower than IgG2a). The identification of mouse Fc gammaRI as the IgG3 receptor establishes Fc gammaRI as a participant in events at the interface between innate and adaptive immunity, implying a greater role for this receptor in the development of normal and pathologic immune responses than previously recognized.