N-Acylphosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs) are precursors of bioactive N-acylethanolamines, including the endocannabinoid anandamide. In animal tissues, NAPE is formed by transfer of a fatty acyl chain at the sn-1 position of glycerophospholipids to the amino group of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and this reaction is believed to be the principal rate-limiting step in N-acylethanolamine synthesis. However, the Ca2+-dependent, membrane-associated N-acyltransferase (NAT) responsible for this reaction has not yet been cloned. In this study, on the basis of the functional similarity of NAT to lecithin-retinol acyltransferase (LRAT), we examined a possible PE N-acylation activity in two rat LRAT homologous proteins. Upon overexpression in COS-7 cells, one protein, named rat LRAT-like protein (RLP)-1, catalyzed transfer of a radioactive acyl group from phosphatidylcholine (PC) to PE, resulting in the formation of radioactive NAPE. However, the RLP-1 activity was detected mainly in the cytosolic rather than membrane fraction and was little stimulated by Ca2+. Moreover, RLP-1 did not show selectivity with respect to the sn-1 and sn-2 positions of PC as an acyl donor and therefore could generate N-arachidonoyl-PE (anandamide precursor) from 2-arachidonoyl-PC and PE. In contrast, under the same assay conditions, partially purified NAT from rat brain was highly Ca2+-dependent, membrane-associated, and specific for the sn-1-acyl group of PC. RLP-1 mRNA was expressed predominantly in testis among various rat tissues, and the testis cytosol exhibited an RLP-1-like activity. These results reveal that RLP-1 can function as a PE N-acyltransferase, catalytically distinguishable from the known Ca2+-dependent NAT.