The signal transduction of the plant hormone cytokinin is mediated by a His-to-Asp phosphorelay. The canonical cytokinin receptor consists of an extracytoplasmic hormone binding domain named cyclase/histidine kinase associated sensory extracellular (CHASE) and cytoplasmic histidine kinase and receiver domains. In addition to classical cytokinin receptors, a different type receptor - named CHASE domain receptor serine/threonine kinase (CHARK) - is also present in rice. It contains the same ligand binding domain as other cytokinin receptors but has a predicted Ser/Thr- instead of a His-kinase domain. Bioinformatic analysis indicates that CHARK is a retrogene and a product of trans-splicing. Here, we analyzed whether CHARK can function as a bona fide cytokinin receptor. A biochemical assay demonstrated its ability to bind cytokinin. Transient expression of CHARK in protoplasts increased their response to cytokinin. Expression of CHARK in an Arabidopsis receptor double mutant complemented its growth defects and restored the ability to activate cytokinin response genes, clearly demonstrating that CHARK functions as a cytokinin receptor. We propose that the CHARK gene presents an evolutionary novelty in the cytokinin signaling system.