We describe a general method for isolating a class of 40 kDa plasma membrane fatty acid binding proteins which have been identified previously only in rat liver and jejunum. Proteins extracted with 2 M salt from rat adipocyte and cardiac myocyte plasma membranes were subjected to preparative isoelectric focusing. Fractions with pI's greater than or equal to 9.0 were further purified by oleate-agarose affinity chromatography and HPLC. Each tissue yielded a single 40 kDa protein which co-chromatographed with [3H]-oleate on gel permeation HPLC, and reacted on Western blots with an antibody to the corresponding hepatic membrane protein. Related plasma membrane fatty acid binding proteins have now been isolated from each of the major sites of fatty acid transport.