Antigen presenting cells (APCs) can take up exogenous antigenic peptides chaperoned by heat shock protein gp96 and re-present them through the endogenous pathway on their major histocompatibility class I molecules. The high efficiency of this process has been attributed previously to a receptor for gp96 on APCs. The CD91 molecule (also called alpha 2-macroglobulin receptor or the low density lipoprotein-related protein) is shown here to be a cell surface receptor for the heat shock protein gp96. CD91 binds gp96 directly, rather than through another ligand for CD91. The previously known CD91 ligand, alpha 2-macroglobulin, inhibits re-presentation of gp96-chaperoned antigenic peptides by macrophages, as do antibodies to CD91. As gp96 is exclusively intracellular and is released as a result of necrotic but not apoptotic cell death, we propose that CD91 acts as a sensor for necrotic cell death.