We present the crystal structure at 2.7 angstrom resolution of the human antibody IgG1 b12. Antibody b12 recognizes the CD4-binding site of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) gp120 and is one of only two known antibodies against gp120 capable of broad and potent neutralization of primary HIV-1 isolates. A key feature of the antibody-combining site is the protruding, finger-like long CDR H3 that can penetrate the recessed CD4-binding site of gp120. A docking model of b12 and gp120 reveals severe structural constraints that explain the extraordinary challenge in eliciting effective neutralizing antibodies similar to b12. The structure, together with mutagenesis studies, provides a rationale for the extensive cross-reactivity of b12 and a valuable framework for the design of HIV-1 vaccines capable of eliciting b12-like activity.