In mammals, IgG is transferred from mother to young by the MHC-related receptor FcRn, which binds IgG in acidic endosomes and releases it at basic pH into blood. Maternal IgY, the avian counterpart of IgG, is transferred to embryos across yolk sac membranes. We affinity-purified the chicken yolk sac IgY receptor (FcRY) and sequenced its gene. FcRY is unrelated to MHC molecules but is a homolog of the mammalian phospholipase A(2) receptor. Analytical ultracentrifugation and truncation experiments suggest that FcRY forms a compact structure containing an IgY binding site at acidic pH but undergoes a conformational change at basic pH that disrupts the site. FcRY is thus unrelated to mammalian FcRn in both its structure and mechanism for pH-dependent binding, illustrating distinct routes utilized by evolution to transfer antibodies.