An increasing body of evidence indicates that oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) is involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. One of the first biologic actions of oxidized LDL to be identified in vitro was its ability to interact with the 'acetyl LDL receptor' discovered by Goldstein and Brown. Over the past decade, considerable progress has been made in identifying and characterizing cell-surface receptors for oxidized LDL. Most of these receptors are thought to be multifunctional because they interact with several structurally different ligands, and accordingly have been termed 'scavenger receptors'. The objective of this article is to review the most important publications dealing with structure, ligand specificity, regulation, and function of scavenger receptors.