Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) hydrolyzes chylomicron and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglycerides and potentiates the cellular uptake of lipoproteins. These LPL-lipoprotein associations could involve only protein-lipid interaction, or they could be modulated by apolipoproteins (apo). ApoB is the major protein component of chylomicrons, VLDL, and low density lipoprotein (LDL). ApoB100, a large glycoprotein with a molecular mass of 550 kDa, is composed of several functional domains. A carboxyl-terminal region of the protein is the ligand for the LDL receptor. There are several hydrophobic domains that are believed to be important in lipid binding. The relatively hydrophilic amino-terminal region of apoB, however, has no known function. Using solid phase assays we quantified LPL-lipoprotein complex formation. On a molar basis, severalfold greater amounts of LPL bound to LDL and VLDL than to high density lipoprotein at all the concentrations of LPL tested (0.9-55 nM). To assess the roles of LDL protein versus lipid, we performed competition and ligand blotting experiments. LDL and an amino-terminal fragment of apoB competed better for 125I-LPL binding to LDL than did lipid emulsion particles. Delipidation of LDL-coated plates did not alter LPL binding. On ligand blots, LPL bound to amino-terminal fragments of apoB generated by thrombin digestion but not to apoA1, apoE, or carboxyl-terminal fragments of apoB. Further evidence for LPL interaction with the amino-terminal region of apoB was obtained using anti-apoB monoclonal antibodies. Antibodies directed against the amino-terminal regions of apoB blocked LPL interaction with LDL, whereas those against the carboxyl-terminal region of apoB did not inhibit LPL interaction with LDL. Thus, we conclude that a specific interaction between LPL and the amino-terminal region of apoB may facilitate LPL association with circulating lipoproteins.