The Beclin 1 gene is a haplo-insufficient tumor suppressor and plays an essential role in autophagy. However, the molecular mechanism by which Beclin 1 functions remains largely unknown. Here we report the crystal structure of the evolutionarily conserved domain (ECD) of Beclin 1 at 1.6 Å resolution. Beclin 1 ECD exhibits a previously unreported fold, with three structural repeats arranged symmetrically around a central axis. Beclin 1 ECD defines a novel class of membrane-binding domain, with a strong preference for lipid membrane enriched with cardiolipin. The tip of a surface loop in Beclin 1 ECD, comprising three aromatic amino acids, acts as a hydrophobic finger to associate with lipid membrane, consequently resulting in the deformation of membrane and liposomes. Mutation of these aromatic residues rendered Beclin 1 unable to stably associate with lipid membrane in vitro and unable to fully rescue autophagy in Beclin 1-knockdown cells in vivo. These observations form an important framework for deciphering the biological functions of Beclin 1.