CD36 is a scavenger receptor which has been studied closely in mammals where it is expressed by many different cell types and plays a role in highly diverse processes, both homeostatic and pathologic. It is among other things important in the innate immune system, in angiogenesis, and in clearance of apoptotic cells, and it is also involved in lipid metabolism and atherosclerosis. Recently, in the cephalochordate amphioxus a primitive CD36 family member was described, which was present before the divergence of CD36 from other scavenger receptor B family members, SCARB1 and SCARB2. Not much is known on the Cd36 molecule in teleost fish. We therefore studied Cd36 in both zebrafish and common carp, two closely related cyprinid fish species. Whereas a single cd36 gene is present in zebrafish, carp has two cd36 genes, and all show conserved synteny compared to mammalian CD36. The gene expression of carp cd36 is high in brain, ovary and testis but absent in immune organs. Although in mammals CD36 expression in erythrocytes, monocytes and macrophages is high, gene expression studies in leukocyte subtypes of adult carp and zebrafish larvae, including thrombocytes and macrophages provided no indication for any substantial expression of cd36 in immune cell types. Surprisingly, analysis of the cd36 promoter region does show the presence of several binding sites for transcription factors known to regulate immune responses. Overexpression of carp cd36 locates the receptor on the cell surface of mammalian cell lines consistent with the predicted topology of cyprinid Cd36 with a large extracellular domain, two transmembrane domains, and short cytoplasmic tails at both ends. Gene expression of cd36 is down-regulated during infection of zebrafish with Mycobacterium marinum, whereas knockdown of cd36 in zebrafish larvae led to higher bacterial burden upon such infection. We discuss the putative role for Cd36 in immune responses of fish in the context of other members of the scavenger receptor class B family.