Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1), associated with heterochromatin formation, recognizes an epigenetically repressive marker, trimethylated lysine 9 in histone H3 (H3K9me3), and generally contributes to long-term silencing. How HP1 induces heterochromatin is not fully understood. Recent experiments suggested that not one, but two nucleosomes provide a platform for this recognition. Integrating previous and new biochemical assays with computational modeling, we provide near-atomic structural models for HP1 binding to the dinucleosomes. We found that the dimeric HP1α tends to bind two H3K9me3s that are in adjacent nucleosomes, thus bridging two nucleosomes. We identified, to our knowledge, a novel DNA binding motif in the hinge region that is specific to HP1α and is essential for recognizing the H3K9me3 sites of two nucleosomes. An HP1 isoform, HP1γ, does not easily bridge two nucleosomes in extended conformations because of the absence of the above binding motif and its shorter hinge region. We propose a molecular mechanism for chromatin structural changes caused by HP1.