The amphipathic helix hypothesis for the lipid-associating domains of exchangeable plasma apolipoproteins has been further studied by analysis of the structure of the complexes formed between four synthetic peptide analogs of the amphipathic r418w1 =Asp-Trp-Leu-Lys-Ala-Phe-Tyr-Asp-Lys-Val-Ala-Glu-Lys-Leu-Ly s-Glu-Ala-Phe (18A) helix and dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC). Density gradient ultracentrifugation, negative stain electron microscopy, nondenaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, 1H NMR, high sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry, and circular dichroism were the techniques used in these studies. The two analogs Asp-Trp-Leu-Lys-Ala-Phe-Tyr-Asp-Lys-Val-Ala-Glu-Lys-Glu-Ala-Phe(18A) and 18A-Pro-18A whose sequences most strongly mimic native amphipathic sequences were found also most strongly to mimic apolipoprotein A-I in DMPC complex structure. The covalently linked dimer of the proteotype amphipathic analog 18A, 18A-Pro-18A, appears to have greater lipid affinity than 18A. This presumably is the result of the cooperativity provided by two covalently linked lipid-associating domains in 18A-Pro-18A. The studies further suggest that the charge-reversed analog of the prototype 18A, reverse-18A, has the lowest lipid affinity of the four analogs studied and forms only marginally stable discoidal DMPC complexes. We postulate that this low lipid affinity is due predominantly, but not necessarily exclusively, to the lack of a hydrophobic contribution of lysine residues at the polar-nonpolar interface of reverse-18A versus 18A. The intermediate lipid affinity of des-Val10-18A, the fourth analog peptide, to produce a rank order of 18A-Pro-18A > 18A > des-Val10-18 A > reverse-18A, supports this interpretation. Des-Val10-18A which has Val deleted from 18A has an amphipathic helical structure partially disrupted by the shift of 2 lysine residues away from the polar-nonpolar interface.