The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) uses the CD4 protein as a receptor for infection of susceptible cells. A candidate structure for the HIV-1 binding site on the CD4 protein was identified by epitope mapping with a family of eight functionally distinct CD4-specific monoclonal antibodies in conjunction with a panel of large CD4-derived synthetic peptides. All of the seven epitopes that were located reside within two immunoglobulin-like disulfide loops situated between residues 1 and 168 of the CD4 protein. The CD4-specific monoclonal antibody OKT4A, a potent inhibitor of HIV-1 binding, recognized a site between residues 32 and 47 on the CD4 protein. By analogy to other members of the immunoglobulin superfamily of proteins, this particular region has been predicted to exist as a protruding loop. A synthetic analog of this loop (residues 25 to 58) showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of HIV-1-induced cell fusion. It is proposed that a loop extending from residues 37 to 53 of the CD4 protein is a binding site for the AIDS virus.