Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection occurs in the central nervous system and causes a variety of neurobehavioral and neuropathological disorders. Both microglia, the residential macrophages in the brain, and astrocytes are susceptible to HIV-1 infection. Unlike microglia that express and utilize CD4 and chemokine coreceptors CCR5 and CCR3 for HIV-1 infection, astrocytes fail to express CD4. Astrocytes express several chemokine coreceptors; however, the involvement of these receptors in astrocyte HIV-1 infection appears to be insignificant. In the present study using an expression cloning strategy, the cDNA for the human mannose receptor (hMR) was found to be essential for CD4-independent HIV-1 infectivity. Ectopic expression of functional hMR rendered U87.MG astrocytic cells susceptible to HIV-1 infection, whereas anti-hMR serum and hMR-specific siRNA blocked HIV-1 infection in human primary astrocytes. In agreement with these findings, hMR bound to HIV-1 virions via the abundant and highly mannosylated sugar moieties of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 in a Ca2+-dependent fashion. Moreover, hMR-mediated HIV-1 infection was dependent upon endocytic trafficking as assessed by transmission electron microscopy, as well as inhibition of viral entry by endosomo- and lysosomotropic drugs. Taken together, these results demonstrate the direct involvement of hMR in HIV-1 infection of astrocytes and suggest that HIV-1 interaction with hMR plays an important role in HIV-1 neuropathogenesis.