In this work, we design a complex-valued neural network for the task of iris recognition. Unlike the problem of general object recognition, where real-valued neural networks can be used to extract pertinent features, iris recognition depends on the extraction of both phase and amplitude information from the input iris texture in order to better represent its stochastic content. This necessitates the extraction and processing of phase information that cannot be effectively handled by a real-valued neural network. In this regard, we design a complex-valued neural network that can better capture the multi-scale, multi-resolution, and multi-orientation phase and amplitude features of the iris texture. We show a strong correspondence of the proposed complex-valued iris recognition network with Gabor wavelets that are used to generate the classical IrisCode; however, the proposed method enables automatic complex-valued feature learning that is tailored for iris recognition. Experiments conducted on three benchmark datasets - ND-CrossSensor-2013, CASIA-Iris-Thousand and UBIRIS.v2 - show the benefit of the proposed network for the task of iris recognition. Further, the generalization capability of the proposed network is demonstrated by training and testing it across different datasets. Finally, visualization schemes are used to convey the type of features being extracted by the complex-valued network in comparison to classical real-valued networks. The results of this work are likely to be applicable in other domains, where complex Gabor filters are used for texture modeling.