Oligomeric assemblies of intraflagellar transport (IFT) particles build cilia through sequential recruitment and transport of ciliary cargo proteins within cilia. Here we present the 1.8 Å resolution crystal structure of the Chlamydomonas IFT-B protein IFT80, which reveals the architecture of two N-terminal β-propellers followed by an α-helical extension. The N-terminal β-propeller tethers IFT80 to the IFT-B complex via IFT38 whereas the second β-propeller and the C-terminal αa-helical extension result in IFT80 homo-dimerization. Using CRISPR/Cas to create biallelic Ift80 frameshift mutations in IMCD3 mouse cells, we demonstrate that IFT80 is absolutely required for ciliogenesis. Structural mapping and rescue experiments reveal that human disease-causing missense mutations do not cluster within IFT80 and form functional IFT particles. Unlike missense mutant forms of IFT80, deletion of the C-terminal dimerization domain prevented rescue of ciliogenesis. Taken together our results may provide a first insight into higher order IFT complex formation likely required for IFT train formation.