The inverse correlation between plasma high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and the risk for cardiovascular disease has been attributed in part to the role of HDL in facilitating the transport of cholesterol to the liver for catabolism. One component of this reverse cholesterol transport is removal of excess cholesterol from peripheral cells. An immunochemical approach was employed to evaluate the role of human apolipoprotein (apo) A-I in cellular cholesterol efflux and to test the hypothesis that discrete structural domains of the molecule mediate this function. Two apoA-I-specific monoclonal antibodies (AI-11 and AI-14) inhibited in vitro cellular cholesterol efflux from THP-1 monocytic cells to HDL or apoA-I proteoliposomes by approximately 50%. Six other antibodies had no effect although three of these bound significant proportions of the apoA-I proteoliposomes. Antibody AI-11 binds apoA-I amino acid residues 96-111 (Banka, C. L., Bonnet, D. J., Black, A. S., Smith, R. S., and Curtiss, L. K. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 23886-23892). The AI-14 epitope was localized to residues 74-105. Therefore, the two antibodies that inhibited HDL promotion of cellular cholesterol efflux bound overlapping but distinct regions of the apoA-I molecule.