Activation of cells by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of gram-negative septic shock. The 55-kDa glycoprotein CD14 is known to bind LPS and initiate cell activation. However, there must be additional LPS receptors because CD14 is linked by a glycosylphosphatidyl inositol anchor to the cell membrane and therefore unable to perform transmembrane signalling. Searching for potential LPS receptors, we investigated the binding of LPS to membrane proteins of the human monocytic cell line Mono-Mac-6. Membrane proteins were electrophoretically separated under reducing conditions, transferred to nitrocellulose, and exposed to LPS, which was visualized with anti-LPS antibody. Smooth- and rough-type LPS, as well as free lipid A, bound to a variety of proteins in the absence of serum. However, in the presence of serum, additional or preferential binding to a protein of approximately 80-kDa was observed. Experiments with differently acylated lipid A structures showed that the synthetic tetraacyl compound 406 was still able to bind, whereas no binding was detected with the bisacyl compound 606. The 80-kDa membrane protein was also detected on human peripheral blood monocytes and endothelial cells. The serum factors mediating the binding of lipid A to the 80-kDa membrane protein were identified as soluble CD14 and LPS-binding protein. From these results, we conclude that this 80-kDa protein is a candidate for the hypothetical molecule for LPS and/or LPS-CD14 recognition and signal transduction.