The genes encoding the receptor for subgroup A Rous sarcoma viruses (tva) were recently cloned from both chicken and quail cells (P. Bates, J. A. T. Young, and H. E. Varmus, Cell 74:1043-1051, 1993; J. A. T. Young, P. Bates, and H. E. Varmus, J. Virol. 67:1811-1816, 1993). Previous work suggested that only the extracellular domain of Tva interacts with the virus (P. Bates, J. A. T. Young, and H. E. Varmus, Cell 74:1043-1051, 1993). Tva is a small membrane-associated protein containing in its extracellular domain a 40-amino-acid region which is closely related to the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) repeat motif. To determine the region of the Tva extracellular domain responsible for viral receptor function, we created chimeric proteins containing various regions of the Tva extracellular domain fused with a murine CD8 membrane anchor. Analysis of these proteins demonstrates that any chimera containing the Tva LDLR repeat motif can specifically bind the envelope protein of subgroup A avian sarcoma and leukosis viruses. Furthermore, NIH 3T3 cell lines expressing these chimeric proteins were efficiently infected by subgroup A avian sarcoma and leukosis virus vectors. Our results demonstrate that the 40-residue-long LDLR repeat motif of Tva is responsible for viral receptor function.