CD13, a receptor for human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), was identified as a major component of the Triton X-100-resistant membrane microdomain in human fibroblasts. The incubation of living fibroblasts with an anti-CD13 antibody on ice gave punctate labeling that was evenly distributed on the cell surface, but raising the temperature to 37 degrees C before fixation caused aggregation of the labeling. The aggregated labeling of CD13 colocalized with caveolin-1 in most cells. The HCoV-229E virus particle showed a binding and redistribution pattern that was similar to that caused by the anti-CD13 antibody: the virus bound to the cell evenly when incubated on ice but became colocalized with caveolin-1 at 37 degrees C; importantly, the virus also caused sequestration of CD13 to the caveolin-1-positive area. Electron microscopy confirmed that HCoV-229E was localized near or at the orifice of caveolae after incubation at 37 degrees C. The depletion of plasmalemmal cholesterol with methyl beta-cyclodextrin significantly reduced the HCoV-229E redistribution and subsequent infection. A caveolin-1 knockdown by RNA interference also reduced the HCoV-229E infection considerably. The results indicate that HCoV-229E first binds to CD13 in the Triton X-100-resistant microdomain, then clusters CD13 by cross-linking, and thereby reaches the caveolar region before entering cells.