Summary: The class A scavenger receptors are phagocytic pattern recognition receptors that are well represented in vertebrate genomes. The high level of conservation among vertebrates implies that this is an evolutionarily conserved family of receptors and indicates the presence of a common ancestral gene. The identity of this ancestral gene is not clear, as it appears that many of the domains of the scavenger receptors (e.g. collagenous, scavenger receptor cysteine rich) originated early in evolutionary history and are found in many combinations, often in genes of unknown function. These early receptors may function in cell–cell recognition, aggregation, or lipid recognition, and their involvement in pattern recognition, phagocytosis, and homeostasis may have been adaptations of such conserved patterns. Herein, we reclassify the class A scavenger receptors based on recent discoveries of new members of this family, describe the evolution of the various domains of the class A scavenger receptors, and discuss the appearance and function of these domains through evolutionary history.