Apolipoprotein AI (apoAI), the major protein component of HDL, is one of the best predictors of coronary artery disease (CAD), with high apoAI and HDL levels being correlated with low occurrences of CAD, The primary function of apoAI is to recruit phospholipid and cholesterol for assembly of HDL particles. Like other exchangeable apolipoproteins, lipid-free apoAI forms a mixture of different oligomers even at 1.0 mg/mL. This self-association property of the exchangeable apolipoproteins is closely associated with the lipoprotein-binding activity of this protein family. It is unclear if the self-association property of apolipoprotein is required for its lipoprotein-binding activity. We developed a novel method for engineering an oligomeric protein to a monomeric, biologically active protein. Using this method, we generated a monomeric mouse apoAI mutant that is active. This mutant contains the first 216 residues of mouse apoAI and replaces six hydrophobic residues with either polar or smaller hydrophobic residues at the defined positions (V118A/A119S/L121Q/T191S/T195S/ T199S). Cross-linking results show that this mutant is greater than 90% monomeric at 8 mg/mL. CD, DSC, and NMR results indicate that the mutant maintains an identical secondary, tertiary structure and stability as those of the wild-type mouse apoAI. Lipid-binding assays suggest that the mutant shares an equal lipoprotein-binding activity as that of the wild-type apoAI. In addition, both the monomeric mutant and the wild-type protein make nearly identical rHDL particles. With this monomeric mouse apoAI, high-quality NMR data has been collected, allowing for the NMR structural determination of lipid-free apoAI. On the basis of these results, we conclude that this apoAI mutant is a monomeric, active apoAI useful for structural determination. © 2005 American Chemical Society.