In the intestinal tract, IL-22 activates STAT3 to promote intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) homeostasis and tissue healing. The mechanism has remained obscure, but we demonstrate that IL-22 acts via tyrosine kinase 2 (Tyk2), a member of the Jak family. Using a mouse model for colitis, we show that Tyk2 deficiency is associated with an altered composition of the gut microbiota and exacerbates inflammatory bowel disease. Colitic Tyk2(-/-) mice have less p-STAT3 in colon tissue and their IECs proliferate less efficiently. Tyk2-deficient primary IECs show reduced p-STAT3 in response to IL-22 stimulation, and expression of IL-22-STAT3 target genes is reduced in IECs from healthy and colitic Tyk2(-/-) mice. Experiments with conditional Tyk2(-/-) mice reveal that IEC-specific depletion of Tyk2 aggravates colitis. Disease symptoms can be alleviated by administering high doses of rIL-22-Fc, indicating that Tyk2 deficiency can be rescued via the IL-22 receptor complex. The pivotal function of Tyk2 in IL-22-dependent colitis was confirmed in Citrobacter rodentium-induced disease. Thus, Tyk2 protects against acute colitis in part by amplifying inflammation-induced epithelial IL-22 signaling to STAT3.