Many of the apolipoproteins in HDL can elicit cholesterol efflux via ABCA1, a critical initial step in HDL formation. Recent work has indicated that omnipresent amphipathic helices play a critical role, and these have been studied intensively in the most common HDL protein, apolipoprotein (apo)A-I. However, little information exists about helical domain arrangement in other apolipoproteins. We studied two of the smallest apolipoproteins known to interact with ABCA1, human apoA-II and apoC-I, in terms of ability to reorganize phospholipid (PL) bilayers and to promote ABCA1-mediated cholesterol. We found that both proteins contained helical domains that were fast and slow with respect to solubilizing PL. ABCA1-medated efflux required a minimum of a bihelical polypeptide comprised of at least one each of a slow and fast lipid reorganizing domain. In both proteins, the fast helix was located at the C terminus preceded by a slow helix. Helical placement in apoC-I was not critical for ABCA1 activity, but helix swaps in apoA-II dramatically disrupted cholesterol efflux, indicating that the tertiary structure of the longer apolipoprotein is important for the pathway. This work has implications for a more complete molecular understanding of apolipoprotein-mediated cholesterol efflux. Copyright © 2013 by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.