C-reactive protein (CRP) is a prototype acute-phase protein that may be intimately involved in human disease. Its cellular receptors are still under debate; the main candidates are FcR for immunoglobulin G, as CRP was shown to bind specifically to FcgammaRI and FcgammaRIIa. Using ultrasensitive confocal live-cell imaging, we have studied CRP binding to FcgammaR naturally expressed in the plasma membranes of cells from a human leukemia cell line (Mono Mac 6). These macrophage-like cells express high levels of FcgammaRI and FcgammaRII. They were shown to bind fluorescently labeled CRP with micromolar affinity, KD = (6.6 +/- 1.5) microM. CRP binding could be inhibited by pre-incubation with human but not mouse IgG and was thus FcgammaR-specific. Blocking of FcgammaRI by an FcgammaRI-specific antibody abolished CRP binding essentially completely, whereas application of antibodies against FcgammaRII did not have a noticeable effect. In fluorescence images of Mono Mac 6 cells, the intensity patterns of bound CRP were correlated with those of FcgammaRI, but not FcgammaRII. These results provide clear evidence of specific interactions between CRP and FcgammaR (predominantly FcgammaRI) naturally expressed on macrophage-like cells.