Measles virus continues to be a major killer of children, claiming roughly one million lives a year. Measles virus infection causes profound immunosuppression, which makes measles patients susceptible to secondary infections accounting for high morbidity and mortality. The Edmonston strain of measles virus, and vaccine strains derived from it, use as a cellular receptor human CD46 (refs 3, 4), which is expressed on all nucleated cells; however, most clinical isolates of measles virus cannot use CD46 as a receptor. Here we show that human SLAM (signalling lymphocyte-activation molecule; also known as CDw150), a recently discovered membrane glycoprotein expressed on some T and B cells, is a cellular receptor for measles virus, including the Edmonston strain. Transfection with a human SLAM complementary DNA enables non-susceptible cell lines to bind measles virus, support measles virus replication and develop cytopathic effects. The distribution of SLAM on various cell lines is consistent with their susceptibility to clinical isolates of measles virus. The identification of SLAM as a receptor for measles virus opens the way to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of measles virus infection, especially the immunosuppression induced by measles virus.