A front-end load is a sales charge that is paid by the investor at the time of purchase.
Funds with front-end loads are sometimes called "A" shares -- though they don't always make the grade. These funds charge an initial sales commission that typically ranges from 2.0-8.5% of the investment. The fee may also apply to reinvestments of dividends, interest, and capital gains.
These funds usually also charge a 12b-1 fee.