Hepatitis C virus (HCV) binds to different human cell lines in vitro. However, the efficiency of adsorption is very low due mainly to a relatively small fraction of the virus being able to bind to these cells. Free low density lipoprotein (LDL > 200 microg/ml) is able to block the attachment of HCV to human fibroblasts in vitro completely. COS-7 cells being primarily not able to bind HCV were transfected with a vector containing the entire coding sequence of the human LDL-receptor (LDLR). HCV was now bound to these cells. We propose that HCV and LDL are competitive for the cellular LDLR and that LDL in sera of patients may regulate the binding of HCV to this target.