The heparan sulfate on the surface of all adherent cells modulates the actions of a large number of extracellular ligands. Members of both cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan families, the transmembrane syndecans and the glycosylphosphoinositide-linked glypicans, bind these ligands and enhance formation of their receptor-signaling complexes. These heparan sulfate proteoglycans also immobilize and regulate the turnover of ligands that act at the cell surface. The extracellular domains of these proteoglycans can be shed from the cell surface, generating soluble heparan sulfate proteoglycans that can inhibit interactions at the cell surface. Recent analyses of genetic defects in Drosophila melanogaster, mice, and humans confirm most of these activities in vivo and identify additional processes that involve cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans. This chapter focuses on the mechanisms underlying these activities and on the cellular functions that they regulate.