Plants can recognize and resist invading pathogens by signaling the induction of rapid defense responses. Often these responses are mediated by single dominant resistance genes (R genes). The products of R genes have been postulated to recognize the pathogen and trigger rapid host defense responses. Here we describe isolation of the classical resistance gene N of tobacco that mediates resistance to the well-characterized pathogen tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). The N gene was isolated by transposon tagging using the maize Activator (Ac) transposon. We confirmed isolation of the N gene by complementation of the TMV-sensitive phenotype with a genomic DNA fragment. Sequence analysis of the N gene shows that it encodes a protein with an amino-terminal domain similar to that of the cytoplasmic domains of the Drosophila Toll protein and the interleukin 1 receptor in mammals, a putative nucleotide-binding site and 14 imperfect leucine-rich repeats. The presence of these functional domains in the predicted N gene product is consistent with the hypothesis that the N resistance gene functions in a signal transduction pathway. Similarities of N to Toll and the interleukin 1 receptor suggest a similar signaling mechanism leading to rapid gene induction and TMV resistance.