Isolation and characterization of a human cDNA demonstrated a novel lipoprotein receptor designated apolipoprotein E receptor 2 (apoER2). The new receptor consists of five functional domains resembling the low density lipoprotein (LDL) and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) receptors. LDL receptor deficient Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing human apoER2 bound apoE rich β-migrating VLDL with high affinity and internalized. LDL was bound with much lower affinity to these cells. The 4.5- and 8.5-kb mRNAs for the receptor were most highly expressed in human brain and placenta. In rabbit tissues, multiple species of the mRNA with 4, 4.5, 5.5, 8.5, and 11 kb were detected most intensely in brain and testis and, to a much lesser extent, in ovary, but were undetectable in other tissues. In rat adrenal pheochromocytoma PC12 cells, the receptor mRNA was induced by treatment of the cells with nerve growth factor. The receptor transcripts were detectable most intensely in the cerebellar cortex, choroid plexus, ependyma, hippocampus, olfactory bulb and, to a much lesser extent, in the cerebral cortex as revealed by in situ hybridization histochemistry. In the cerebellar cortex, the receptor transcripts were densely deposited in Purkinje cell somata.