Disclosed are isolated polypeptides from human CAR (coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor) protein which bind adenovirus. Specifically disclosed are amino acid sequences which corresponds to adenovirus binding domain D1 and the entire extracellular domain of human CAR protein comprising D1 and D2. In other aspects, the disclosure relates to nucleic acid sequences encoding these domains as well as expression vectors which encode the domains and bacterial cells containing such vectors. Also disclosed is an isolated fusion protein comprised of the D1 polypeptide sequence fused to a polypeptide sequence which facilitates folding of D1 into a functional, soluble domain when expressed in bacteria. The functional D1 domain finds application for example in a therapeutic method for treating a patient infected with a virus which binds to D1, and also in a method for identifying an antiviral compound which interferes with viral attachment. Also included is a method for specifically targeting a cell for infection by a virus which binds to D1.