Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are currently the leading candidates for virus-based gene therapies because of their broad tissue tropism, non-pathogenic nature and low immunogenicity. They have been successfully used in clinical trials to treat hereditary diseases such as haemophilia B (ref. 2), and have been approved for treatment of lipoprotein lipase deficiency in Europe. Considerable efforts have been made to engineer AAV variants with novel and biomedically valuable cell tropisms to allow efficacious systemic administration, yet basic aspects of AAV cellular entry are still poorly understood. In particular, the protein receptor(s) required for AAV entry after cell attachment remains unknown. Here we use an unbiased genetic screen to identify proteins essential for AAV serotype 2 (AAV2) infection in a haploid human cell line. The most significantly enriched gene of the screen encodes a previously uncharacterized type I transmembrane protein, KIAA0319L (denoted hereafter as AAV receptor (AAVR)). We characterize AAVR as a protein capable of rapid endocytosis from the plasma membrane and trafficking to the trans-Golgi network. We show that AAVR directly binds to AAV2 particles, and that anti-AAVR antibodies efficiently block AAV2 infection. Moreover, genetic ablation of AAVR renders a wide range of mammalian cell types highly resistant to AAV2 infection. Notably, AAVR serves as a critical host factor for all tested AAV serotypes. The importance of AAVR for in vivo gene delivery is further highlighted by the robust resistance of Aavr(-/-) (also known as Au040320(-/-) and Kiaa0319l(-/-)) mice to AAV infection. Collectively, our data indicate that AAVR is a universal receptor involved in AAV infection.