Oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) leads to its rapid uptake by macrophages in vitro, but no detailed studies have addressed the effect of oxidation on the binding of LDL to proteoglycans. We therefore treated LDL with various substances: copper sulfate, 2,2'-azobis(2-amidinopropane)hydrochloride (AAPH), soybean lipoxygenase, and mouse peritoneal macrophages, and determined the extent to which the oxidatively modified LDL bound to human aortic proteoglycans in an affinity column. Oxidation of LDL with copper, AAPH, or macrophages, all of which increased its electrophoretic mobility, was associated with reduced binding to proteoglycans, until strongly oxidized LDL was totally unable to bind to them. After treatment of LDL with soybean lipoxygenase, the change in electrophoretic mobility was small, and the amount of binding to proteoglycans was only slightly decreased. The increased electrophoretic mobility of oxidized LDL reflects modification of the lysine residues of apolipoprotein B-100 (apoB-100). To mimic the oxidative modification of lysines, we treated LDL with malondialdehyde. This treatment also totally prevented the binding of LDL to proteoglycans. In contrast, if the lysine residues of apoB-100 were methylated to shield them against oxidative modification, subsequent treatment of LDL with copper sulfate failed to reduce the degree of LDL binding to proteoglycans. Finally, the active lysine residues in the oxidized LDL particles, which are thought to be involved in this binding, were quantified with NMR spectroscopy. In oxidized LDL, the number of these residues was found to be decreased. The present results show that, after modification of the lysine residues of apoB-100 during oxidation, the binding of LDL to proteoglycans is decreased, and suggest that oxidation of LDL tends to lead to intracellular rather than extracellular accumulation of LDL during atherogenesis.