During atherosclerosis, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-derived cholesterol accumulates in macrophages to form foam cells. Macrophage uptake of LDL promotes foam cell formation but the mechanism mediating this process is not clear. The present study investigates the mechanism of LDL uptake for macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF)-differentiated murine bone marrow-derived macrophages. LDL receptor-null (LDLR-/-) macrophages incubated with LDL showed non-saturable accumulation of cholesterol that did not down-regulate for the 24 h examined. Incubation of LDLR-/- macrophages with increasing concentrations of (125)I-LDL showed non-saturable macrophage LDL uptake. A 20-fold excess of unlabeled LDL had no effect on (125)I-LDL uptake by wild-type macrophages and genetic deletion of the macrophage scavenger receptors CD36 and SRA did not affect (125)I-LDL uptake, showing that LDL uptake occurred by fluid-phase pinocytosis independently of receptors. Cholesterol accumulation was inhibited approximately 50% in wild-type and LDLR-/- mice treated with LY294002 or wortmannin, inhibitors of all classes of phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K). Time-lapse, phase-contrast microscopy showed that macropinocytosis, an important fluid-phase uptake pathway in macrophages, was blocked almost completely by PI3K inhibition with wortmannin. Pharmacological inhibition of the class I PI3K isoforms alpha, beta, gamma or delta did not affect macrophage LDL-derived cholesterol accumulation or macropinocytosis. Furthermore, macrophages from mice expressing kinase-dead class I PI3K beta, gamma or delta isoforms showed no decrease in cholesterol accumulation or macropinocytosis when compared with wild-type macrophages. Thus, non-class I PI3K isoforms mediated macropinocytosis in these macrophages. Further characterization of the components necessary for LDL uptake, cholesterol accumulation, and macropinocytosis identified dynamin, microtubules, actin, and vacuolar type H(+)-ATPase as contributing to uptake. However, Pak1, Rac1, and Src-family kinases, which mediate fluid-phase pinocytosis in certain other cell types, were unnecessary. In conclusion, our findings provide evidence that targeting those components mediating macrophage macropinocytosis with inhibitors may be an effective strategy to limit macrophage accumulation of LDL-derived cholesterol in arteries.