Competitive binding experiments were performed using Y1-BS1 adrenal cells to provide information about the interaction of HDL apolipoproteins with scavenger receptor class B, type I (SR-BI). Exchangeable apolipoproteins apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), apoA-II, apoE-2, apoE-3, and apoE-4 as phospholipid complexes bind like HDL3 to SR-BI via their multiple amphipathic c-helices; the concentrations required to reduce the binding of HDL3 to SR-BI by 50% (IC50) were similar and in the range of 35-50 μg protein/ml. In the case of apoA-I, peptides corresponding to segments 1-85, 44-65, 44-87, 149-243, and 209-241 all had the same IC 50 as each other (P = 0.86), showing that a specific amino acid sequence in apoA-I is not responsible for the interaction with SR-BI. The distribution of charged residues in the amphipathic α-helix affects the interaction, with class A and Y helices binding better than class G* helices. Synthetic α-helical peptides composed of either L or D amino acids can bind equally to the receptor. Association with phospholipid increases the amount of apolipoprotein binding to SR-BI without altering the affinity of binding. Lipid-free apolipoproteins compete only partially with the binding of HDL to SR-BI, whereas lipidated apolipoproteins compete fully. These results are consistent with the existence of more than one type of apolipoprotein binding site on SR-BI.