Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (parasitized red blood cells [PRBCs]) can adhere to uninfected erythrocytes (RBCs) to form rosettes, and adhere to the endothelial cell (EC) surface antigen CD36. These adherence phenomena have previously been considered quite different. We show that anti-CD36 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) reverse rosetting of PRBCs from both a culture-adapted line (Malayan Camp [MC] strain) and a natural isolate, GAM425. Three MoAbs that block adherence of PRBCs to ECs or C32 melanoma cells also reversed rosetting by greater than 50% at levels of less than 1 microgram/mL (OKM5, OKM8, and 8A6). Two other MoAbs that react with purified CD36 (1D3 and 1B1), but do not react with the surface of C32 cells, failed to reverse rosetting. When rosettes were disrupted and the RBCs and PRBCs were pretreated separately with antibodies before mixing to allow rosette reformation, only pretreatment of RBCs had an effect. MoAb 8A6 pretreatment of RBCs blocked rosette reformation, while MoAb 1B1 pretreatment did not. Rosetting was also reversed by purified human platelet CD36. In conjunction with evidence that CD36 is expressed on normal human erythrocytes (van Schravendijk et al, Blood 80:2105, 1992), we conclude that this CD36 is able to act as a host receptor for rosetting in the MC strain and some natural isolates of P falciparum.