A novel 56,000-dalton growth factor found in mouse salivary gland was purified, molecularly cloned, and expressed in monkey COS cells. The protein is a neurotrophic factor and also, surprisingly, a lymphokine product of lectin-stimulated T cells. The factor was therefore named neuroleukin. Neuroleukin promotes the survival in culture of a subpopulation of embryonic spinal neurons that probably includes skeletal motor neurons. Neuroleukin also supports the survival of cultured sensory neurons that are insensitive to nerve growth factor, but has no effect on sympathetic or parasympathetic neurons. The amino acid sequence of neuroleukin is partly homologous to a highly conserved region of the external envelope protein of HTLV-III/LAV, the retrovirus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.