Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), uses the viral spike (S) protein for host cell attachment and entry. The host protease furin cleaves the full-length precursor S glycoprotein into two associated polypeptides: S1 and S2. Cleavage of S generates a polybasic Arg-Arg-Ala-Arg carboxyl-terminal sequence on S1, which conforms to a C-end rule (CendR) motif that binds to cell surface neuropilin-1 (NRP1) and NRP2 receptors. We used x-ray crystallography and biochemical approaches to show that the S1 CendR motif directly bound NRP1. Blocking this interaction by RNA interference or selective inhibitors reduced SARS-CoV-2 entry and infectivity in cell culture. NRP1 thus serves as a host factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection and may potentially provide a therapeutic target for COVID-19.