High density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) are cholesterol transport particles whose plasma concentrations are directly (LDL) and inversely (HDL) correlated with risk for atherosclerosis. LDL catabolism involves cellular uptake and degradation of the entire particle by a well-characterized receptor. HDL, in contrast, selectively delivers its cholesterol, but not protein, to cells by unknown receptors. Here it is shown that the class B scavenger receptor SR-BI is an HDL receptor. SR-BI binds HDL with high affinity, is expressed primarily in liver and nonplacental steroidogenic tissues, and mediates selective cholesterol uptake by a mechanism distinct from the classic LDL receptor pathway.