Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), a major adhesin molecule expressed on Plasmodium-falciparum-infected erythrocytes, interacts with several receptors on endothelial cells and uninfected erythrocytes. This 'stickiness' known as rosetting, is a strategy used by the parasite to remain sequestered in the microvasculature to avoid destruction in the spleen and liver. Erythrocyte rosetting causes obstruction of the blood flow in microcapillaries. Recent data suggest a direct interaction between PfEMP1 and a functional site of complement receptor type 1 (CR1; CD35) on uninfected erythrocytes. Consistent with the hypothesis that CR1 is important in malaria pathogenesis is a 40-70-fold increase in the frequency of two CR1 blood-group antigens (at least one of which might rosette less efficiently) in malaria-exposed African populations. Furthermore, structural differences in erythrocyte CR1 between human and non-human primates are probably explained by the selective pressure of malaria.