The group's Syco/Columbia introductory effort Up All Night sold 176,000 copies in its opening week, according to Nielsen SoundScan data, knocking Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball from the top of the Billboard 200 chart. It prevented Adele's 21 from returning to number one for a 24th week.
One Direction's instant number one on the countdown is unprecedented for a UK group as no other British band before them have debuted at the top with their first album. And just three other UK acts previously have topped the chart with debut efforts having climbed to the summit, beginning with Blind Faith's self-titled debut in 1969, then Bad Company's own eponymous effort in 1974 and Spice Girls' Spice in 1997. Until now the Spice Girls had the best start for a British group on the countdown when their debut Spice entered at six in February 1997 on its way to number one.
Two British solo acts have landed instant number ones on the chart with their debuts - Leona Lewis in 2008 with Spirit and Susan Boyle the following year with I Dreamed A Dream. Like One Direction, both acts are signed to Simon Cowell's Syco label.
One Direction have also made chart history in Canada, becoming the first international act to enter at number one on the chart with a debut release in the SoundScan era.
The boy band will continue to be in the spotlight in the US in the coming weeks with an appearance lined up for Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards on March 31 when they will perform What Makes You Beautiful, while they will be on NBC's Saturday Night Live on April 7.