Affinity columns containing anti-apolipoprotein A-I or A-II were used to fractionate plasma into subpopulations of lipoprotein particles containing: a) apoA-I [Lp(A-I)], b) apoA-I and A-II [Lp(A-I with A-II)], and c) apoA-I but no A-II [Lp(A-I without A-II)]. Single vertical spin and electron microscopy analyses of these HDL subpopulations demonstrated that acid elution from the affinity columns caused no detectable change in size and density of the three subpopulation particles. Analysis by nondenaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of the three subpopulations found in four normal subjects identified nine HDL subspecies, designated  through  in order of increasing size; [3-7] were the major subspecies. Lp(A-I with A-II) is composed primarily of subspecies ,, and , and may contain some subspecies  and , while Lp(A-I without A-II) represents mainly  and  and the minor subspecies ,,, and . HDL subspecies ,, and  are found in the standard sequential flotation density cuts for both HDL3 and HDL2, which illustrates the limitations of the latter terminology. Using single vertical spin ultracentrifugation, HDL fractions were located and isolated for physical and chemical analyses, including immunoassay for apoA-I, A-II, and C-II. The distribution of the Lp(A-I without A-II) particles corresponded closely to the apoC-II distribution. An apoA-I-rich, cholesteryl ester- and phospholipid-poor subspecies was identified in the dense HDL fractions. HDL subspecies  was found to contain at least three separate subspecies designated [7a], [7b], and [7c]. Based on these and previously published results (Brouillette, C. G., et al. 1984. Biochemistry. 23: 359-367), we propose that the HDL subspecies adjacent in size generally differ by the association/lack of association of a hinge-like domain of amphipathic helixes in a single molecule of apoA-I.