Apolipoprotein D (apo D), a member of the lipocalin protein family, has been identified and cloned in several mammalian species; its physiological functions, however, remain poorly understood. As with other lipocalins, apo D can bind small hydrophobic ligands. Lipids and hormones, such as cholesterol, arachidonic acid, and progesterone can bind to apo D; but the physiological significance of these interactions is not clear. We previously reported the existence of an avian (Gallus domesticus) apo D-like protein, and indicated a possible role for it in reproduction. This report provides a further comparative characterization of this avian protein. Evidence is presented that the putative avian apo D, like some (e.g., human) but not other (e.g., rat) mammalian apo Ds, preferentially associates with high density lipoproteins (HDL) in the circulation. These results confirm the apolipoprotein nature of the avian apo D-like protein, and indicate that it has conserved the HDL-interaction property of some mammalian apo Ds. The response of circulatory levels of the avian protein to 17beta-estradiol treatment is also examined. Large estrogen-dependent increases are known to occur in the circulatory levels of some avian apolipoproteins, such as apo B and vitellogenins, that represent major yolk precursors and nutrient sources for the embryo. Although the avian apo D-like protein is also a known yolk precursor, the minor estrogen-dependent increase observed for this apolipoprotein (less than 7% that of apo B) distinguishes it from the major yolk-precursor apolipoproteins. The response of the avian apo D-like protein to 17beta-estradiol is more like that of other yolk precursor proteins that transport regulatory molecules such as vitamin A and thyroid hormones.